Moving Beyond Conversation: The Power of Courage & Conviction

This is the fifth blog in my series inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s quote: “Write hard and clear about what hurts.”

In the days following the death of George Floyd, many of us have shared our perspectives about the importance of speaking out and speaking up, along with the detrimental impact of staying silent. I applaud those who have been courageous enough to enter into conversations about race, systemic and structural racism, and it’s traumatic and tragic impact on Black and Brown people in this country. These conversations matter and they are important. They matter more than any statement an organization releases, any text message you send to your Black friends and/or coworkers, or any social media post you make to demonstrate your commitment to anti-racism. But make no mistake, conversations alone won’t bring the kind of change we need to heal this gaping wound in America’s soul. It’s going to take many conversations-not just one to say you care and you’re sorry. And more importantly, it is going to require conviction.

Conviction is the internal signal that we must act. It’s what doesn’t allow us to stay silent. It’s what makes us speak up and take action, when we know the consequences will be great-loss of friends, connections, advantage, and in this situation, power and privilege. Conviction has no connection to fear. It is rooted in an internal and spiritual courage that starts in the soul, travels to the heart, and manifest in the ways we carry ourselves, live our lives, and ultimately the way we think about and treat other people. Conviction-an unrelenting spirit of what we must do, coupled with the hope that our courage will not fail us. When we are convicted about something, about saying something or failing to speak up, about doing something or failing to act, the internal agitation of our heart, mind, and soul will not allow us to escape. We can’t talk our way out of it, negotiate our minds into a different perspective, or substitute our thoughts and feelings with something else. Conviction gives us no choice but to give-give into what we know at our core is right, and more importantly to act on that.

In the days, weeks, and years to come, we don’t just need the courage to remove the names of buildings that are named after those with a legacy of racism and bigotry or to take down statues that have stood for centuries as a symbolic refusal to let go of a dark past filled with hate. We will need folks with both courage and conviction. People whose hearts and souls won’t allow them to gloss over the issue with a conversation. Those who will be awake at night if they don’t act. Those who won’t be able to look at themselves in the mirror if they don’t contribute to the change. Those who worry they may end up living an inauthentic life because they failed to follow the path of their heart and soul. Change won’t come from conversation alone. This kind of change-a new way of thinking, living, and loving one another-requires courage and conviction. I’m leaning into it. I hope you will too.

Until next time,

Latoya

4 thoughts on “Moving Beyond Conversation: The Power of Courage & Conviction”

  1. I’m loving this series. Very insightful. I’ve been trying to hunt down the original source of the Hemingway quote, but not having any luck. Do you happen to know the source? I’m beginning to wonder if it’s like one of those lovely aphorisms that people attribute to Aristotle, but is actually just an anonymous bit of wisdom misattributed. Help!

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  2. I’m loving this series. Very insightful and powerful. Thank you. I’ve been trying to hunt down the original source of the Hemingway quote, but not having any luck. Do you happen to know the source? I’m beginning to wonder if it’s like one of those lovely aphorisms that people attribute to Aristotle, but is actually just an anonymous bit of wisdom misattributed. Help!

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    1. The full quote as I understand it is this: Which of Hemingway’s books had the quote “Write hard and clear about what hurts. Don’t avoid it. It has all the energy. Don’t worry, no one ever died of it. You might cry or laugh, but not die.” I can’t seem to find the original text but I’ve seen it in multiple places as well. Don’t believe it’s misattributed though. Thanks for reading!

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      1. Hmmm… looks like the expanded quote from “Don’t avoid it” on is actually Natalie Goldberg (Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life, 1990, pg. 4). Unfortunately, she doesn’t give a source for the Hemingway quote, either. I’ll keep digging, but thanks for the quick reply! Maybe Academic Twitter will have a Hemingway scholar that can help me out. (And sorry about the double post.)

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