Sunday Scribblings #194: People Who Dared

The prompt over at Sun­day Scrib­blings today is dare. My first instinct was to write a spon­ta­neous short fic­tion vignette—that is what prompts are all about, right? But, while I con­sid­er writ­ing fic­tion a use­ful prac­tice to improve my skills as well as a reward­ing cre­ative endeav­or in its own right, my real pas­sion is non­fic­tion. So, today I’ll share the true sto­ries oft­wo peo­ple who dared.

First up: Flo­rence Nightin­gale. We all know her as the “lady with the lamp,” the hero­ic nurse who tend­ed British sol­diers dur­ing the Crimean War. But her sto­ry is so much more inter­est­ing than that. Even as a child, she nursed her dolls, pets, and even the local poor. As a young woman from a wealthy fam­i­ly, she did not have to work. She was attrac­tive, and had many mar­riage pro­pos­als, one from a man she tru­ly loved. Yet she turned them all down to do the work she felt com­pelled to do. In Vic­to­ri­an Eng­land, nurs­es were con­sid­ered to be among the low­est lev­els of soci­ety: igno­rant, dirty, and often drunk. Flo­rence ded­i­cat­ed her life to chang­ing this per­cep­tion, not only car­ing for her patients with ten­der ded­i­ca­tion, but also by lob­by­ing for and mak­ing sys­tem-wide improve­ments in hygiene, admin­is­tra­tion and record-keep­ing, sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis, report­ing, and hos­pi­tal con­struc­tion. She dared to defy the expec­ta­tions of every­one around her, and ini­ti­at­ed a new order in health care.

Sec­ond: Emmanuel Ofo­su Yeboah. He was born in 1977 in Ghana, West Africa, with only one leg. At the time, dis­abil­i­ty was con­sid­ered to be a curse. His father left, and friends urged his moth­er to kill him. She did not, and instead raised him the same as able-bod­ied chil­dren, doing chores and going to school. As a young man, he was dis­turbed by how many dis­abled peo­ple were forced to beg to sur­vive. He decid­ed to show his coun­try that peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties could do use­ful things. In 2001, he dared to ped­al a bicy­cle almost 400 miles across Ghana, with one leg. He drew the atten­tion of the peo­ple, the media, and the gov­ern­ment offi­cials. In 2006, Ghana’s Par­lia­ment final­ly passed the Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ty bill, which stat­ed that peo­ple with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties are enti­tled to all of the same rights as the rest of the country’s cit­i­zens. “I want to spread a mes­sage to change per­cep­tions,” he said, “and the only way to do that is to lead by example.”

These are two of the true sto­ries that give me the courage I need to con­tin­ue to dare to make my own mark on the world by writ­ing about and shar­ing them with oth­ers. How about you—will you dare to make a dif­fer­ence in the world? Come on—I dare you!

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