Profiles in Boldness: Four People Who Led Bold Lives

Accomplishment, color, and texture fill bold lives. Here is but a small sampling of people who  led bold lives. They are people who should be emulated, if not for their specific actions but for how they their lives were led.

John Adams

Without a doubt, he was one of the leading voices of revolution for the colonies in America.  In calling for revolution against the throne of England, John Adams became a traitor to England and a patriot to America.  While others called for negotiation and working within the system, John Adams declared the system to be broken and worthless for the people of the colonies and called for a new government to be created.  It takes a bold person to go beyond modifying a current structure to scrapping it entirely and building something new.

What modes of thought, structures, in your life to do you spend time trying to modify to keep it working when you should be scrapping it entirely and starting fresh?

Nicolaus Copernicus

Nicolaus Copernicus grew frustrated with the anomalies in the way planetary movement was calculated and sought a different explanation.  He then posited a theory that  there wasn’t a ‘center of the universe’ only a center for specific systems and in the system which Earth existed, the Sun was the center.  His bold ideas ran contrary to the scientific thought of his time and more importantly, the doctrine of the Church.

Do you have any ideas you suppress because they don’t fit the way everything else looks at the world?

Queen Elizabeth I

A country led by a woman? How scandalous, she had best get a husband’s hand on the tiller of state and save her own gentle frail hand the rough work.  Queen Elizabeth throughout her reign on the throne of England had advisors telling her she needed to marry for the sake of the kingdom.  She refused for she knew the moment she did, the power of the state would leave her and be vested in her husband.  She didn’t want the throne of England to become subservient to the interests of France or Spain and she didn’t want to be in a purely political marriage.  She led England in times of war and led her country into a greater expansion of the Empire resulting in the time being considered the English Renaissance.

Do you have people telling you what you should or should not do that ultimately undermines your authority?

Jeanette Rankin

The first woman elected to Congress, she was elected at a time when most women did not have the right to vote.  She advocated for suffrage rights for women and in 1917 boldly stood with 50 other representatives to cast a vote against entering the the war in Europe which is now known as World War I.  Despite her opposition to the war, she supported the draft and committed to the selling of Liberty Bonds to fund the war effort.  She lost re-election but continued to play an active role in politics, specifically women’s rights.  She returned to Congress as a representative as part of an anti-war movement and was a bold voice casting the only vote in opposition to war with Japan.  She famously said, “As a woman, I can’t go to war and I refuse to send anyone else. It is not necessary. I vote NO.”  When Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, she voted ‘Present’.  Leaving Congress, Jeanette traveled to India and devoted herself to non-violence and self-determination.

Do you have principles that are difficult to hold onto because they are not valued by the people around you?

There can be ongoing discussion about each of these individuals and whether they were correct in their actions.  Adams certainly had many enemies. Copernicus self-censored himself. Queen Elizabeth took many heavy handed actions to keep her throne of power. In light of what we know now of the holocaust, Jeannette Rankin’s vote against war seems naive and cruel.  It isn’t important that we emulate their actions but how they lived their lives. They stood up for what they believed in, they challenged the status quo, they had no fear of throwing away the current order with full confidence that a better one could be created, and they didn’t back down from their beliefs even in the face of massive opposition.

Go boldly into your future.