This Is What Courage Looks LikePosted on Jan 7, 2013 in Christianity, Counseling, Psychology, Self Care | 2 comments
In the fall of 2004, during the Ukrainian presidential election, monitors had reported widespread vote-rigging immediately after the runoff between Yushchenko and the Russian-backed prime minister, Viktor Yanukovych.
Authorities had rigged official votes to swing toward Yanukovych, although Yushchenko was clearly the winner.
In the midst of this election, Natalia Dmytruk worked for the state-run television station. She was the signer for the deaf viewers. Her face and hands appeared in a little box at the bottom of the screen.
Often Dmytruk went to Independence Square with her 20-year-old son and teenage daughter and saw the thousands of protesters. She felt herself transformed. But then she would return to work and broadcast the state’s version of events.
I was observing it from both sides, and I had a very negative feeling. After every broadcast I had to render in sign language, I felt dirty. I wanted to wash my hands.
On November 24, Dmytruk walked into her studio for the 11 a.m. broadcast. She secretly tied an orange ribbon—a powerful symbol of what would become known as The Orange Revolution—to her wrist, hidden by her sleeve. She knew when she began signing to Ukraine’s deaf population, the orange ribbon would be revealed. It was a signal that she was signing lies the commentator gave.
I was sure I would tell people the truth that day. I just felt this was the moment to do it.
Later, she described her legs becoming heavy and being terribly scared.
The newscaster was reading the officially scripted text about the results of the election, and Dmytruk was signing along. But then she wasn’t listening anymore. She began signing a different message than the one being spoken:
I am addressing everybody who is deaf in the Ukraine. Our president is Victor Yushchenko. Do not trust the results of the central election committee. They are all lies. And I am very ashamed to translate such lies to you. Maybe you will see me again…
Quickly, the word spread from the deaf to the non-deaf citizens. Dmytruk’s live silent signal helped spread the news, and more people began spilling into the streets to contest the vote. A re-run of the runoff was scheduled for December, and this time, Yushchenko was declared the winner.
Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t stay silent anymore? I’ve felt that a lot lately.
For instance, I’ve found it hard to keep quiet about political events in Libya. And yet, I feel the pressure to stay in my brand, for my book’s sake (I understand, it’s best not to offend half my audience.)
And last night, I was mad about a Bed & Breakfast refusing to honor the $300 gift certificate my mother-in-law gave me. When I expressed my anger on Facebook, I got pushback from friends who told me to ‘let go and let God.’ I’m guessing they think it’s unlady-like, or unchristian, to speak up.
A mentor says when people tell me to quit talking about politics, it’s putting me back into the horrible role I played for so long: one where I had to be childlike, powerless, and voiceless. He says it does me damage to keep this quiet. In my years of counselor education and counseling others, I’ve learned it is not healthy to remain passive and timid.
So, I’m in a struggle to find balance. I don’t want to offend my friends and yet I don’t want to go back to a sick, small place.
Natalia Dmytruk gives me courage.Want to know what happened to her?
She returned to work to give the 3 p.m. news, but was not admonished by her superiors. When she finished, she went into the technicians’ studio and told them what she had done. They hugged her all at once. “You are terrific, Natalia.”
Have you ever found it hard to share what’s on your mind? What helped you?
How did you find the right balance?
*Steven Covey has some thoughts about Finding Your Voice
So does The Accidental Creative Click Here
Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty professor at Colorado Christian University.
She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice."