To be the first....
Every now and then there’s a movie that puts a fire in my soul.
“Hidden Figures” is one of those. It seems to go from strength to strength, honouring equal rights, step parents and good leadership just to touch on a few.
And while I was truly touched by the scene at the dinner table with Katherine Goble and her family (you’ll have to see the movie….I’m not going to wreck it!), for me, the highlight of the movie were the words of Mary Jackson whilst she was petitioning a judge to be the first ‘coloured’ woman to attend a particular all white school:
“I plan on being an engineer at NASA, but I can't do that without taking them classes at that all-white high school, and I can't change the color of my skin. So I have no choice, but to be the first, which I can't do without you, sir. Your honor, out of all the cases you gon hear today, which one is gon matter hundred years from now? Which one is gon make you the first?”
You see, no one of ‘colour’ had attended the school and Mary knew she had to be the first. Even deeper than that was that she chose not to be afraid. And it struck me….what do I know deep in my heart, I have to do? Even if it feels that I’m going to be the first?
Or, putting it in a different way, how do I raise a child or teach a student to believe that everyone has the power to be a first. Not first in a race, because competition victories will fade. But first in a ground-breaking-this-can-be-done-and-it-might-just-change-our-world kind of way.
Courage. Strength. Resilience. Persistence. Tenacity. Just plain…. grit. These are the qualities that I have to work on in me, and that I try regularly to help my little people to learn.
But it isn’t easy. Change from what any of us know, is hard. Knowing that no one has done what you need to do can cause some fear. But in the words of the great Nelson Mandela, another truly ‘first’ person….
"May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears."