Sunday, February 14, 2016

An Example of Moral Courage: Mary Anne Grady-Flores

On July 10, 2014, a 58-year-old grandmother of three, Mary Anne Grady-Flores, was sentenced to one year in prison for being found guilty of violating an order of protection.  Her appeal was rejected, and she began serving a reduced six-month sentence on January 19th, 2016.  She is 60 years old now, and in jail.  For what?

Mary Anne Grady-Flores had been part of an ongoing protest at the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base near Syracuse, New York.  That base is used to control Reaper drones over Afghanistan, and to train drone pilots, and other technical support personnel.

The order of protection that Flores violated (by standing peacefully by the side of the road) was actually issued to "protect" one man, Colonel Earl Evans, Hancock NG base mission support commander, who claimed he wanted to keep protesters "out of his driveway." (There's a "real man" for ya!).

This 6-and-a-half minute video tells the whole story:

http://youtu.be/otxwbkwQX-8

Mary Anne Grady-Flores's story isn't remarkable in itself.  The evidence of courage I find comes, not from what she did, but from the choices she made, individually, and at an advanced age, when most people have already given up making sacrifices for higher goals or values.  At 58, she could very easily have chosen to stay at home, comfortable, secure.  She chose not to.

And she could have, very realistically, reasoned that her actions, her visible protest, will accomplish nothing.  But that didn't matter to her.  Even if her protest proves futile (and I believe it will), she chose to make it anyway. Perhaps because none of us can ever know how effective we’re ever going to be, and people want to measure that all the time.  Sometimes, though, I think each one of us has to live with our consciences.  Our choices have to be individual, and based on what we know is right; not on what we can hope to achieve.

People confront me, often, with the question, "What have you ever changed, really?"  I can answer that in a word:  "me."  I changed me.  And that's all that matters.  You think you can change yourself?  Try it.  I challenge you to try.

And, finally, I'd like to point out the two absolutely opposing attitudes displayed in the video above. Grady-Flores is standing there, taking personal responsibility for the actions of her government; the military officer who confronts her with abusive profane language is the polar opposite.  Listen to what he tells her.  In effect, that man denied the same responsibility that she takes to heart.  He yells that he's not to blame for his own actions; the government is.  He's just a tool, an instrument, of the State and its power.  Not responsible for himself and his own actions.

She takes personal responsibility for the actions of her government; he refuses to take responsibility for his own actions.  Which of the two viewpoints best represents your own?  Which better reflects the traditional principles of Americans?  What are those principles; do you remember?  Here's a hint: blind loyalty to the State is not among them.

None of us has to spend our days picketing outside a military to base to stand up to the military/police/surveillance state.  If you have voiced your concerns to others who know and trust you, quietly, privately, but resolutely, expressing your opposition to the systematic reduction of liberty in America (the foundation on which the nation claims to stand), I believe you've done all that any of us can do.   And there's never going to be any way to measure the effectiveness of your dissent.  Never.  Do it anyway.  
 

Mary Anne Grady Flores's arrest (February 13, 2013)


Is it worth it? I don’t know.  We don’t know how effective we’re ever going to be, and people want to measure that all the time. But I think each one of us has to live with our consciences.

How do you live in America right now and sleep at night if you don’t say something?

– Mary Anne Grady Flores