The First Parish Blog

When does your service begin?

By , Published on April 15, 2016

Tuesday, April 25, at 7:30pm in the Parlor

There are countless spectrums on which we may locate ourselves – conservative to progressive, introvert to extrovert, cautious to free-wheeling. In most cases, we aren’t merely at one pole or the other, and our position along the spectrum can change from moment to moment.

The spectrum that we’d like to invoke this month could be framed as the range of positions between Courageous and Complacent, the state of rising to life’s various challenges or shrinking from them.

In short: Are you an activist or an armchair moralist?

In this context, complacency or armchair moralism, is the practice of being concerned and intellectualizing issues of justice, but not acting very much on those concerns.

The courageous are those willing to leave their comfort zone for a cause or principle they believe in.

Heroes come to mind, like the guy who jumped off the subway platform and lay down on the kid on the tracks as the subway car rolled over them, leaving them both unharmed. Or Karen Silkwood, who risked her job and ultimately her life by speaking out against corporate malfeasance regarding workplace safety.

But acting out one’s principles doesn’t have to be so extreme or superhuman. Welcoming a stranger in need into your home, or standing up to a bully are small acts that take courage.

Perhaps the greatest acts of principle are those small deeds that go unnoticed, done purely for the principle and not for the public approbation.

These are times that would appear to elicit courageous action, so many cornerstone values and moral principles are thought to be threatened. Gratefully, there are many at First Parish who are truly courageous, who are willing to act on their convictions even if if means going to some uncomfortable places. Others of us may still be waiting to be called.

So in this month’s Big Question Forum we ask, Are you courageous? Have you been stirred to action in defense of your principles? Have you resisted the complacency of your comfort zone? What is it that catalyzes your activism? What prevents you from actively defending your principles?

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