Once again I find myself speaking about something I promised myself I would leave alone ...
Does Caitlyn Jenner deserve the Arthur Ashe award for Courage?
Well ... I'm not going to answer. I'm just going to point out some facets of the debate.
What is courage?
So being the girl I am I do love words ... word roots or origins ... word meanings. It makes it much easier to communicate when you actually know what you are saying ... and maybe more importantly, what the others in the conversation are saying.
From dictionary.com (slightly better than Wiki-anything)
c.1300, from Old French corage (12c., Modern French courage) "heart, innermost feelings; temper," ... from Latin cor "heart" which remainsa common metaphor for inner strength.Did Caitlyn show courage? If you answer no I would love to know your reasoning.
In Middle English, used broadly for "what is in one's mind or thoughts,"hence "bravery," but also "wrath, pride, confidence, lustiness," or any sort of inclination. Replaced Old English ellen, which also meant "zeal, strength."
My therapist suggested I read a book by Brene Brown - "The power of vulnerability."
Wait! Did you just admit you are still seeing a therapist? Are you crazy? How embarrassing! I would never admit that. I don't have any issues I cannot work out for myself. You must be weak!
Um, let me check ... ... Yep, I did. Does this bother you? Why should it?
When I went into Catharine's office just over three years ago I truly thought I was dealing with one issue - being transgender. What I did not realize is this one issue was buried under and amongst so much pain and issues I have never talked about. By exposing my deepest secret I also dug up many other emotional issues.
In essence, it's the difference between cutting a picture in half and making a jigsaw puzzle. One can be easily repaired, even if you will always notice the cut. The other ... well, sometimes you just cannot find all the pieces to make the picture whole again.
Brene Brown speaks in very simple language on a very deep, emotional and personal issue (I watched a video ... more of an audible learner rather than a visual learner). One of the things she said that caught my attention is that humans communicate through story.
Okay ... I initially guffawed at this because we don't tell stories ... ... or ... wait. Do we?
What she says makes sense. The earliest forms of communications were stories written in picture on walls. Many cultures passed their heritage through many generations by way of story telling. Modern history is told via story ... news reports are stories ... recipes are written with "directions" which tell the story of how the item is made.
So to show courage you are expressing your story with heart or inner strength. You make your innermost feelings vulnerable to those who are listening.
But who is really listening?
Listening implies one is closely paying attention. If someone is closely paying attention they can choose to show compassion ... to be empathetic to the person confiding in them or they can choose to ignore or reject the person. They can believe that because they do not understand the other person's point of view that the two are no longer equal ... or maybe they always believed that the other was somehow inferior.
When someone has cancer or other illness it becomes a little more difficult to know how to help, but so many are there to be supportive. "I just wanted to visit." "Call me if you need to talk." "What kind of treatments are they using?" "I'm here for you." "I can't imagine how you feel."
But a person admits to mental issues, learning disabilities, personal issues regarding religion or sexuality or gender and suddenly so many become the expert ... or they disappear ... or they talk about the person behind their back. "I choose to think happy thoughts so I don't get depression." "If you try a little harder then ADHD won't be an issue." "I don't know why you are choosing to be transgender." "Anxiety never stopped me from doing anything." "Those with addictions are mentally weak." "I read an article that says depression doesn't exist. It was created by the pharmaceutical industry." "Dyslexia is just an excuse people use to not read or write." "You can't possibly have PTSD. Only people who suffered real trauma deal with that."
Where is the, "Call me if you need something." "I'm here for you." comments?
Obviously this does not apply to everyone. There are so many incredible people who do care ... who do understand ... who do listen without judging. It's very sad that more people do not have these traits.
So ... Does Caitlyn Jenner deserve the Arthur Ashe award for courage?
She showed amazing courage. She brought a very secret topic further into the mainstream. She has generated conversation. She has made herself very visible so others know they are not alone. She has made herself ... her life very vulnerable.
She has shown great courage.
If you look at the list of previous winners, the majority are there for issues in their personal life. All have dealt with adversity. All are inspirational in some way.
Quoted from Wikipedia:
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award (sometimes called the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage or Arthur Ashe for Courage Award) is an award that is part of the ESPY Awards. Although it is a sport-oriented award, it is not limited to sports-related people or actions, as it is presented annually to individuals whose contributions "transcend sports". Often these transcendent figures are also athletes who have been at the top of their sport, such as Muhammad Ali, Dean Smith, and Cathy Freeman.
1993 Jim Valvano (College basketball coach - died of cancer)
1994 Steve Palermo
1995 Howard Cosell
1996 Loretta Claiborne (Special Olympics Athlete)
1997 Muhammad Ali (Boxer - suffers from Parkinson's)
1998 Dean Smith
1999 Billie Jean King (Tennis player - openly gay)
2000 William David Sanders (posthumously) (teacher killed at Columbine)
2001 Cathy Freeman
2002 Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett, and Jeremy Glick (posthumously) (All were passengers on flight 93 on 9/11)
2003 Pat Tillman and Kevin Tillman (NFL players - Pat killed in Afghanistan)
2004 George Weah (Passenger on flight 63 on 9/11)
2005 Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah and Jim MacLaren
2006 Roia Ahmad and Shamila Kohestani
2007 Trevor Ringland and David Cullen from Peace Players International
2008 Tommie Smith and John Carlos
2009 Nelson Mandela (You may have heard of him)
2010 Family of Ed Thomas
2011 Dewey Bozella
2012 Pat Summitt
2013 Robin Roberts (TV personality - breast cancer survivor)
2014 Michael Sam (First openly gay NFL player)
2015 Caitlyn Jenner (Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon - came out as transgender)