I had an essay written about respect to submit for my green belt. While showing
respect to people of all ages, races, genders, religions and cultures both
inside and outside the classroom is a fundamental tenet by which I govern
my life, I recently discovered the true meaning of my oath last week.
Allow me to digress momentarily with a story about my daughter Ella that
will make my recent discovery a bittersweet tale. Two weeks ago, Ella was
teasing Lauren, her sister. While this is nothing new to report, the way
I reprimanded Ella was. A recent enrollee of Kicks 4 Women, Ella practiced
reciting her tenets and student oath daily to commit them to memory. So at
the moment I intervened on Lauren's behalf, I reminded Ella that the oath
was more than just words, these statements were principles that should guide
her actions. Her momentary effrontery, hands on her hips, face screwed up
into a scowl, quickly changed to a comprehending nod and disgruntled acceptance.
She had never considered that what she recited in class was anything more
than a rote requirement. I reveled in my creative parenting and even gloated
to my husband that night.
So imagine my surprise when I, a 35 year old woman, came to the same realization
not more than two weeks later.
I came in to class early this past Thursday to sweep the floor and quickly
review my forms, eager to perfect my skills for my test Tuesday. I was unexpectedly
confronted with a decision to practice as planned, or attend a meeting to
discuss a lewd invitation sent by a Bucknell fraternity portraying women
in a less than acceptable way. I could tell Sabum Nim really wanted to attend
the meeting and I began to mourn my lost opportunity. I also thought of the
floor I just swept in preparation for class, the inconvenience of finding
parking, and the frustration of another meeting plagued with inactivity and
inundated with ego. The next moment a little voice inside my head, the same
one that pulled the oath out of thin air to reprimand Ella said, "this is
what it means to be a champion of freedom and justice." Doing the right thing
is not always easy, convenient or planned. It is about seizing every opportunity
to make a difference, to fight for those who don't have the heart, nerve
or sinew to speak out and to build
a more peaceful world with your
own two hands. This was not a time to hide behind my busy schedule; it was
a time to live my oath as a student of Tae Kwon Do. And I did.
Now I revel, not at my creativity, but at my courage to take a stand. Look