Freedom for Excellence: A Story of Courage.

Not so long ago my country Kenya experienced a very sad event. This sad event was a terrorist attack at a local, uptown hotel in Nairobi. The first time I was old enough to understand what a terrorist attack was and what it meant was 6 years ago while in my third year in high school. The attack took place in a busy mall in the capital of Kenya. The images of distort citizens filled our media stations for weeks. The stories of individuals who had escaped death by a whisker were told and retold over and over again.

Since then I have grown familiar with the term attack, as a result of several attacks I have seen on the news in different places all over the world. What never seizes to amaze me though, is the love, selflessness and courage that people tend to reveal time and again in the face of all this. In the recent attack, I watched strangers give blood donations to assist the wounded after the attack, I listened to stories of men and women who risked their lives to save others and watched my fellow countrymen stand in solidarity with those affected.

It was clear again that there is value for human life and that people genuinely care for each other. I could see the picture of the struggling-caring man as depicted by Charles Malik in the World Youth Alliance’s Certified Training Program. I could see how individuals chose to use their freedom for excellence to serve humanity and protect human dignity. I was moved and challenged.

To know that all human beings have dignity is one side of a coin, to take action by protecting that dignity is the other side of the coin. How great would it be if for every disaster the counter attack would be in form of Selflessness, love and care? A beautiful form of Satyagraha. Where, without violence and protests, we soak ourselves in the truth and defend the dignity of the human person? Where we use our freedom to serve humanity, to make the lives of other people better even in the face of adversity?

I keep thinking of the people who put their lives on the line to save the hostages in the attack last week and can’t stop wondering, do they have families? Why were they willing to risk their lives for strangers? How big are the hearts of those who donated blood,  the women who prepared meals for the servicemen who were camping trying to take control of the situation? I remember the individuals who escaped the attack yet went back to save their colleagues and friends. As I think of all these stories of courage, I find hope in humanity. I see protectors of human dignity.

Human beings are capable of selflessness and love. Human beings are capable of excellence. Human beings are capable of protecting human dignity, both theirs and that of others. Let us then strive to defend human dignity through this freedom that we have and be excellent!


Written by Wangeci Mwaniki, a WYA Africa intern alumnus and volunteer