Being Brave

Posted: March 13, 2012 in Health, Life, Sports
Tags: , , , , , ,

How many of you would actually describe yourselves as courageous? Or brave? Would some of you really, truly exhibit an act of courage when faced with something tough? Or would you stand back in the shadows, scared to death, and hope that someone else more brave than you came along?

I’m going to tell you right now—I’m a scaredy cat. When my boyfriend travels for work, I’m convinced that’s going to be the night someone breaks into the house. I fall asleep facing the door, because then at least that way I’ll see someone coming to get me. If it’s storming out and I’m home alone? Fuhgeddaboutit. I’m worse than my cat. Maybe worse than all of these things though, is the fact that if I was asked to stand up for something I believe in and it went against the majority—I’d hesitate to do it.

This has all come up because last night we watched ESPN’s latest documentary, ‘The Announcement,’ which chronicled Magic Johnson’s life both before and after it came out that he had been infected with HIV.

I’m not old enough to remember him as a player—anything I recall is from old footage or stories I’ve read. I’m also not old enough to remember how scary AIDS was when it first hit the scene—it was seen as a disease that only gay men got and no one really knew how you got it.

In this documentary, we found out that Magic Johnson was adamant about coming out and telling the public why he was retiring from basketball. His wife urged him to consider coming up with a different reason, but it never crossed his mind. He wanted to become an AIDS advocate—he wanted people to know that it could also be a heterosexual disease, and that it didn’t matter if you were a prostitute or one of the greatest NBA players to ever play the game—AIDS didn’t discriminate.

Hearing that, floored me. That day in age, for him to stand up and do that, is truly heroic. Back then no one knew exactly how AIDS was transmitted—so teammates and opponents alike that he’d developed bonds with were scared. In 1992, after his retirement, the fans voted for Magic to play in the All-Star game and the NBA didn’t know what to do. At that time, people didn’t really know how AIDS was spread. The NBA hired an expert that came back and said that it could not be transmitted by sweat, and Magic was allowed to play—in fact, that All-Star game was probably one of the best in the history of the All-Star game.

My whole point here is that Magic did something unbelievably courageous and he did it for the greater good, and by doing so he gave AIDS a face, and it wasn’t the face of a lesion-covered gay man.

So when it comes right down to it—could you have done it? If you could have lied and said you were retiring due to some other, less taboo disease—would you have? Or would you have stood up like Magic, and become an advocate for a disease that today affects somewhere around 34 million people?

Courage isn’t about doing the easy thing. It’s about doing the right thing—and oddly enough, the right thing is usually the hardest thing. So I challenge all of us to stand up for what we believe in, because without our beliefs and our morals, we don’t have a leg to stand on.

  1. wmarsau says:

    Amazing blog. Amazing film. I recommend it to everyone to watch. You did a great job of characterising Magic’s heroism. How he stood up against one of the most evil diseases known to man and he not only won, but did it with a smile on his face. We could all learn something from him.

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