Sunday, May 3, 2015

Profile in Courage - Omer Day 30

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

Today I was privileged to be present at the awarding of this year's Profile in Courage award to Bob Inglis, former Republican Congressman from South Carolina, and the Profile in Courage essay contest for high school students, awarded to Matthew Waltman of Tenefly, New Jersey. The Profile in Courage award was presented by Jack Schlossberg, grandson of President John F. Kennedy.

It was an inspiring event.

Inglis represented the fourth congressional district of South Carolina as a Republican from 1993-98 and again from 2005-10. He was preparing for re-election when his son, now able to vote, told his father that he would get his vote, but he needed "to clean up his act" about climate change. That was a life-changing conversation for Inglis, who went on to learn about climate change, realize that the science is accurate, and, after advocating for carbon pricing legislation, losing his seat in the Congress. Today, as he received the award, he expressed hope for the future, “I believe that a pricing of carbon dioxide will be like someone said of the financial crisis, ‘It’s amazing how the impossible went to the inevitable without ever passing through the probable.’”

Jack Schlossberg, about to graduate from Yale, was also inspiring, as he called upon his grandfather's memory and legacy when he introduced the Profile in Courage Award and award winner. "My grandfather’s legacy is kept alive by Bob’s courageous decision to sacrifice his political career to demand action on the issue that will shape life on earth for generations to come."

But let us not forget the high school student, also present, receiving an award for an essay about "Tom Selders: A Mayor for All the People," mayor of Greeley Colorado, who took a stand for decent treatment of illegal immigrants after a raid on a local business, and received hate mail and was defeated in the next election. Matthew Waltman wrote at the end of his essay, "Today, America finds itself at a crossroads as it grapples with the question of what type of nation it aspires to be."

There are so many inspiring people. Each of us who refuses to "compromise away" our principles is worthy of our own profile in courage award. Each of us helps to decide "what type of nation" our country will be. We can make our country and our world a better place.

Today is Day 30, which is four weeks and two days of the Omer.
Today is Day 30, which is four weeks and two days of the journey from bondage to revelation.

Rabbi Katy Allen is a board certified chaplain and serves as a Nature Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit. She is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long. She is a co-convener and coordinator of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network.

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