Courage on United Flight 93

by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.

I’ve read various theories about the final minutes of United Flight 93. But for me there is only one certain truth. The courageous actions of its passengers.

Whether or not we think a movie should have been made about this flight doesn’t change the fact that it’s part of our American history. Our national narrative. The unfolding saga in the war against terrorism. A war that often seems without obvious rules and clearly against an enemy without country or ethical boundaries.

It’s certainly not the first time that Hollywood has made a movie depicting a national tragedy. The same could be said for numerous books and songs. We seem to be a people who like to record our events and feelings about those events.

Without question the actual details of those final minutes can only be guessed. Phone conversations between passengers and relatives tell us that passengers became aware their hijacked plane was likely to be used as a terrorists’ weapon. And … that they must do something.

So, the courage of everyday people is told in a movie some refuse to see, some feel they must see, some criticize, some praise.

And what of courage?

While there are numerous stories of courage described in the Bible, the one that comes to my thought first is David battling and conquering Goliath. David was a shepherd boy who volunteered to do what trained soldiers feared they couldn’t.

I’ve always loved this story. The setting was army against army. An enormous and frightful soldier from the enemy’s camp, Goliath, made a challenge for one man to fight him. David wasn’t in the army. But his brothers were. Their father had sent David to his brothers’ army camp to bring food.

He was obedient. He wasn’t looking for fame and glory. David’s noble desire was to help, and he believed with all his heart he could.

At first the army leader questioned David’s ability to face such an experienced soldier, since David was a mere boy. He said, “You can’t go and fight this Philistine. You’re too young and inexperienced — and he’s been at this fighting business since before you were born.” Yet, leading spirituality author Mary Baker Eddy wrote that individuals’ “strength is in proportion to their courage.”

What kind of courage did this young boy have, which I believe was also the kind of courage of which Eddy was speaking? Not animal courage often flaunted by impetuosity, brashness or daring. But moral courage, exhibited by David’s fortitude, determination and undaunted spirit.

And it’s these qualities of moral courage that no doubt strengthened the hearts and emboldened the actions of the passengers on United Flight 93. Qualities that surely must be part of the foundation of all right thinking and acting.

What greater actions are there than to do what is right? Actions impelled by pure and selfless motives. Not prompted by ego or inspired by grandeur of self.

Do you think such qualities are reserved for the few?

With God the Father-Mother of all, my hope and expectation is that surely all of His children have all they need at every moment. Would not this include moral courage as an ability that is instilled in each of us by God? Completely independent of and unlimited by physical prowess.

Moral courage guiding our thoughts, decisions and actions shows us how to be better men and women. Gives us the strength to overcome seemingly overwhelming human odds. Enables us to “fight the good fight.”

I have no doubt the passengers on Flight 93 fought the good fight. There’s no question their actions were compelled by moral courage. I deeply wish the outcome of their success could have resulted in their lives continuing with their loved ones. But their example of courage lives on.

Their example assures you and me that we also are armored in the strength of moral courage. That we can go forward through our lives prepared to battle and disarm any “Goliath.”

Whether or not everyone goes to see the movie of “United 93” doesn’t stop us all from honoring and remembering its passengers. Everyday people with moral courage. Courage we can discover within ourselves. Courage of better men and women who people a better world.