I was 15 years old when I first heard of Edward R. Murrow. My teacher at the time told me that he always remembered how to spell the word ‘tomorrow’ – was it 2 M’s or 2 R’s? – because Murrow was spelled with 2 R’s. I was quick to ask him, “Who is Ed Murrow?”, and of course the “OMG, I’m old” look on his face was priceless.
Yet part of me wishes I was old enough to have witnessed what Edward Murrow did in his fight against McCarthyism in the fifties. It took real courage and conviction to stand up to the modern day witch hunt against communism. A witch hunt in which association was enough evidence to prove you guilty of being un-American. One can only imagine what someone like Joseph McCarthy would think if he were alive today.
As you can tell by the intro to this blog entry, I recently saw the movie ‘Good Night, and Good Luck’. I really enjoyed it. I loved how it was filmed in black & white, and how Clooney used stock footage of the McCarthy hearings to make the film feel so real. But more importantly, I loved the underlying message of the movie.
I do not think this film is a period peace about McCarthyism. Rather, I think it’s a movie about having the courage to stand up for your beliefs. Edward Murrow did just that, exposing what he felt were the injustices of the McCarthy hearings, and how the zealous fervor of protecting our lives as Americans ironically is what threatened it the most. And I found myself relating so much to Murrow, as depicted in this film, for his ‘stick-to-your-guns’ attitude about reporting the truth.
I like to think my team at work thinks of me as the guy who will go to bat for them time and time again in order to get something we need accomplished. I believe I am not afraid to push back or rock the boat. And if I don’t succeed, it wasn’t because I didn’t try. There is a sense of accomplishment, even in failure, when you know in your heart that you gave it your all. That you tired your best.
Which leads me to this question. How is it possible that people chose to live their lives in fear? How is it that someone can just sit there and watch something bad happen and not so much raise a finger to stop it? I believe the answer lies in fear itself. Fear of rocking the boat. Fear of being persecuted or labeled. Fear of being called out our scrutinized. Fear of the unknown. So instead of listening to their heart and going with their gut, they determine the safe road is better and decide to stay home with their heads buried in the sand.
I’ve written before that part of living is wanting to be great. I believe greatness is not found in the routine of everyday. Greatness does not exist in the safety of “that’s all I know”. No, I believe that those who achieve greatness are the ones that are not afraid to fail. The ones that are not afraid to stand up and stand out. The ones that are not afraid to live. After all, you can’t have conformity without comfort, and I can’t think of anyone who became great as a conformist.
Everyone has their own path to follow. Everyone has their own lives to lead and decisions to make. If you truly want to be great, if you truly want to be alive, and if you truly want to experience happiness and accomplishment; then allow yourself to follow your heart and not just do, but live what you believe in. To quote another historical figure, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”