Sunday, March 10, 2013

Thank You, Harriet Tubman

Miss Harriet - iPad using Procreate

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. 
Always remember, you have within you the strength, 
the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars 
to change the world.
Harriet Tubman

But your father lived by a philosophy, a principle really.
He believed that...that if you could do good things for other 
people, you had a moral obligation to do those things. 
That's what at stake here. Not a choice, responsibility.
- Ben Parker to Peter Parker, The Amazing Spider-Man 2012


March 10, 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of Araminta "Harriet" Ross Tubman, a woman whose heroic efforts in the freeing of many slaves through the Underground Railroad continue to astonish.

While creating this iPad painting from an old fuzzy photograph, 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man was playing in the background. But, it wasn't till later that I noticed the coincidence. Two figures, one real, one fictional, and both choosing to do the right thing and help others, however difficult. 

Today's kids are more impressed with a swinging web-slinger than anyone in a history book. Computer generated monsters hold their attention longer. But, there was nothing artificial in Harriet's mission. She worked mostly in the cold of wintertime and in the dark of night. And the night was really dark. 

We in the modern world, especially those close to towns and cities, forget what real darkness is. When you can't see your hand in front of your face if it's cloudy or there's no moon. When it's clear, the sky is crazy with stars. There's nobody to call on, no phones, no passing cars, no maps or GPS. You're completely on your own. Add as a bonus, that in Harriet's case, she and the people she was leading to freedom were constantly pursued. 

Harriet escaped from slavery, but didn't stop there. She returned for her family, but didn't stop there. She continued to go back for people, through all kinds of adversity and the threat that she could be caught and/or killed.

What kind of courage is that? Where does it come from? And why is it so hard to find within ourselves. Looking at this life makes our own little problems seem beyond absurd. Our roadblocks don't come in the form of slavecatchers and dogs. They are the ridiculous illusions built up in our minds that we cannot do a thing. That our goals are too far off and we don't have what it takes.

If Harriet agonized over whether or not she had what it took to perform this incredible work, she didn't let it stop her. This little five-foot-nothing woman did it anyway. She set out to blaze a trail and succeeded, and that path to freedom continues to light the way for anyone who has dared to realize their dream.

Now, what possible excuses could any of us have?

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