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…that most admirable of human virtues–courage. ‘Grace under pressure,’ Ernest Hemingway defined it. —John F. Kennedy, first lines of Profiles in Courage, 1956.

I was thinking about the definition of courage yesterday, especially as applied to specific acts of bravery by former leaders. It was a day that started with the state of Georgia electing its first Black Senator, and then its first Jewish (and youngest ever) Senator to the United States Congress.

The day didn’t go well from there. First I heard Rudy Giuliani—he of the microphone-down-his-pants challenges—calling for the next president of the United States to be decided with “trial by combat”. I have to admit, I was thinking of taking him up on it.

Sure, I’m a chubby, height-challenged granny with a blender-chopped bandaged finger and a bad back, and he’s… Yeah, that probably wouldn’t be fair to him. I’d have to let him take the first bitch-slap.

But then I heard Donald Trump, arguably the most powerful man on the planet, telling his supporters he would march with them down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol Building where both Houses of Congress were meeting to perform their constitutionally-mandated duty. Trump told them to “stand and fight.”

(Apparently courage for this president is what he tells others to have because he then went back to the White House, tweeting threats against his vice president, and calling violent occupiers of the US Government building “patriots.”)

America and the world watched, stunned, as a sitting United States President’s incitement to violence saw congressional proceedings halted, the US Capitol building under lockdown, its halls filled with Trump supporters who seemed unsure why they were there and what they should do next as they posed for selfies with their confederate flag and KKK tattoos, while they defaced, pillaged, and looted the houses and offices of Congress.

Possibly the most shameful part of all was that instead of making an immediate and public appeal to stand down, the man who took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States tweeted that the terrorists attacking the capitol were patriots.

So President Trump, I think it’s time you had a lesson in just what true courage—heartbreaking grace under unbearable pressure—looks like. My friend Sue Vincent is a grandmother who gave up a career she loved because her son was attacked, injured, and left for dead. She spent years filled with too many long days, too much driving, and endless amounts of courage and grace and love to become her son’s carer. Now she herself is facing a devastating disease with that same grace and poise and humor and above all love.

Sue has cheerfully turned all this into entertainment in her blog (in which, BTW, she does NOT whine about being cheated and a victim, or urge every person around her to lie and commit crimes to make herself feel better).

The first two posts of her series, The inconvenient walking dead…, are found here and here. Read them.

It’s not easy reading, because Sue takes us through the nightmare of chemo and radiation therapies. She shares effects of the disease trying to kill her, and side effects of the poisons trying to keep her alive, and the pandemic keeping her alone.

And most of all, she confides the reason she’s done all of it.

But, maybe it would have been better to just slip away quietly… die quickly and solve the problems for everyone… except those you love. Or maybe, I thought with more hope, after Christmas, I would be able to spend time with friends and family, get out into the land, just have bought enough time to compensate for the three months lost to COVID restrictions.

Because love was the reason I was doing all this. Not time.




You might want to try some of this. Maybe live up to some of those promises you made four years ago. After all, you’ve got plenty of time now. I know, Mr. President, that you’ve been cut off from your favorite shit-stirring on Twitter and Facebook, so you’ll have time to look at the other fascinating things Sue blogs about while you wait for the final installment tomorrow.

And then you’ll know what real courage looks like.

You’re welcome.