The courage to risk getting stuck

July 12, 2011

Saturday afternoon I was driving home on a side road when I noticed ahead of me a man and a woman in electric wheelchairs moving down the street.  I slowed down and watched as suddenly the wheels of one chair went in a rut at the side of the road and got stuck. The person was unable to move the wheelchair out. I stopped my car and got out.

As I neared the couple, it appeared to me that they had Cerebral Palsy. I asked if I could help and got a nod. I went to the stuck wheelchair and was able to maneuver it out of the rut and they went on their way with an expression of thanks in their eyes along with some words I couldn’t quite understand.

I got back in my car marveling at their willingness to travel in their wheelchairs on a city street without the benefit of having their arms, legs, and speech able to respond in the ways most of us take for granted on a daily basis. I knew I was seeing what courage looks like.

It led me to think about courage, privilege, and racism.

It takes courage to venture down roads that resist racism rather than fostering a false sense of separateness and security by avoiding those roads entirely.   I recognize that even with my white-skinned privilege, I’m hesitant to travel that way because I know I won’t be in control and totally comfortable. I wonder what will happen if I fall into a rut and can’t find my way out. I forget to trust in the assistance of others.

Now I have a new image to hold when I feel called to take a risk. I am grateful to those two people in the wheelchairs who reminded me that risking getting stuck and trusting in others are foundations for courage.

One comment

  1. Sometimes we don’t know what we have until it is gone

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