Do you have the mettle?

Amal Chatterjee
8 min readMar 24, 2018

Source :Published by The Associated Press, originally photographed by Jeff Widener, Fair use,

Synopsis : This blogs deals with the subject of sheer human courage called mettle that can bring about profound changes in the society and challenges the wrongdoers but often suffers the consequences in terms of personal sacrifices.

It is a loaded word that means far more than what it implies so simply. The mettle of a person shows his true character and his resolve in facing adversity even at the cost of his life. How many people you know who have this resolve ,who stand up for their rights and are willing to suffer pain and even death but will not yield on their principle one bit ? Rare is such a person but they are the ones who make history by sacrificing themselves so that others may enjoy freedom.

There is a girl who took a bullet in her head because she believes in education for all girls in the world. We have all heard of her because she has the mettle and her name is Malala Yousafzai. There was a man who fought apartheid in South Africa and spent 28 years in prison because he had mettle. His name was Nelson Mandela. The history of mankind is full of such people who had the courage and audacity to stand for what they believed and paid a heavy price because tyrants, dictators and evil people in this world hate such courage and try to crush it because they tremble in fear facing such pure energy coming from poor, helpless and defenseless people who symbolize all that is good and decent. They hate it because they know the power of good over evil.

The Talibans hate Malala because they know that she is right and they are wrong. The racist people hate the activists who are fighting for a world free of hate and racism. The mill owners hate the workers who demand for their rights, better pay and health care. The ruthless landlords hate the poor tenant farmers who demand a better compensation for all the hard work they do to grow the food. The middle men hate the farmers who want to sell their produce directly to the consumers at a lower price.

The evil people always hate those who are fighting the evil in this world because they make money through the human exploitation but they fear the activists who try to make this world a better place for everybody and have the mettle. The lone Chinese boy facing the tanks in Tian An Men square had the mettle and he was willing to be crushed under the tank to prove that he was fighting for the freedom of everyone. I would very much like to know the name of that courageous person and know if he is still alive and free. All over the world we find people who are willing to step forward and be heard and who are willing to make the extreme sacrifice of their lives so that others may be free.

There is a tremendous amount of money to be made through all the evil activities everywhere so we see the mafia, the drug dealers, the smugglers of humans and goods, the poachers who kill rare and beautiful animals for profit, the polluters of land, water and air so that they can make money, the dictators and tyrants who hang on to power no matter how much people suffer. The world is so full of evil people that sometimes it seems an impossible task to overcome them.

They steal, rule and kill innocent people with impunity because they feel that they are above the law so no one can bring them to justice. They bribe the justices and policemen and when that does not work, send in their goons to threaten or kill them. They hire goons to protect them all the time and erect iron clad security around them because they are so afraid of the oppressed people who may one day claim retribution.

So I greatly admire the activists who show their mettle and who are not afraid to stand up and face the threat when no one will. They are truly the special people who are born courageous to fight injustice everywhere but are always beaten, incarcerated, tortured and even killed by the evil people because the evil is always afraid of such pure energy of goodness that ultimately overwhelms them and relegates them to the dustbin of history. Where is Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Mugabe, Marcos, Noriega and their cohorts? Where is Genghis Khan, Shaka, Mutesa, Mobutu and thousands of others who were so powerful but died in ignominy?

It takes great courage to fight evil when you are weak, powerless and frail. It takes tremendous courage to fight evil when you are poor and sick, without voice and support. Often the activists find themselves fighting a lonely battle against very powerful and evil people who have all the money and resources to harm you and tie you up in lengthy court battles for years through their paid and immoral lawyers when direct threat does not work. It makes the activists shine all the more because they are the underdogs who fight for what is right so win the hearts of all the victims they represent.

There was a lady who saw how the poor female embroiders in Lucknow were exploited by the cruel middlemen who paid them pittance for the exquisite embroideries they produced in low light and in dark slum like workshops so she organized a cooperative to improve their situation, gave them well lit and clean workshops and freed them from slavery and sold their products at a great price that benefitted the women directly for the first time. But the lady was threatened by the evil middle men with death daily until the government gave her the protection she needed. Such is the life of an activist.

The jails all over the world are full of people who simply wanted a better life for themselves and for others, wanted religious freedom, freedom to speak freely and demonstrate but it could not be tolerated by the authorities so they are thrown in jails where they are mistreated, poorly fed and even tortured. Vir Savarkar was beaten and tortured daily by his jailer in Andaman just because he wanted freedom for all Indians.

Rajeev Dixit was murdered by the goons because he was an activist who was not afraid to talk about all the corrupt and immoral politicians in India and exposed them in his U tube videos openly so he was killed. Did he not know the danger he was in? I am sure he did but continued anyway knowing that any day it could be his last .He had mettle. It is this sheer courage of such people that separates them from the rest because they are not afraid to stand alone and fight by speaking out or writing. Pen is mightier than a sword so the evil people are very afraid of the pen.

The newspaper journalists are also very courageous and expose wrong doings of the powerful daily so they are hauled to the court on false charges and are often forced to reveal their sources of information by the corrupt judges. The judges are in cahoots with the evil politicians so they help protect the evil and punish the activists.

The Archbishop Romero was shot dead in El Salvador because he always spoke out about the exploitation of the poor in his country and Pope John Paul. II was shot because the Moslems falsely thought that he was against them. They were the prominent people who tried to help the poor and suffered the consequences. But the activists who are thrown in jail and beaten or killed are the common people who are often not known at all but they emerge out of obscurity because they feel that they must take a stand even if alone . That takes tremendous courage.

We know them when they try to protect tortured animals and help create sanctuaries for them like in India where they protect the bears and other endangered animals from the abusers. We know them when they try to protect the poor women embroiders of Lucknow from the cruel middlemen. We know them when we see them marching against the pollution of water, land and air by the big companies that dump waste everywhere without care or concern. We see them when they pick up the oil drenched sea birds and mammals, clean them and bring them back to life.

They are the everyday common people with an uncommon will to fight for what is right so they are my heroes. They are vilified, threatened and often beaten by the goons sent by the evil people who are the wrongdoers because the evil people themselves remain behind the buffer and hire people to do their dirty work for them. You can never prove in a court who gave the order to murder Rajeev Dixit or Bishop Romero because such orders are not given in a way that can be proven just like in the mafia movies.

All over the world in practically every country, you will find them in the person of Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Che Guevara, Vir Savarkar, Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Ajaad, Queen Lakhsmi Bai of Jhansi, Matangini Hazra, Preetilata Wadekar, Jatindra Nath Mukherjee and numerous others who left behind a legacy of heroism and tremendous courage and paid the price with their lives.

But the ordinary people can also be heroes because they too keep on fighting for what is right in their own way. When you refuse to pay bribe and stand your ground, you are a hero. When you raise your child properly and give him an education in spite of your poverty and great difficulties, you are a hero. When you speak up against workplace sexual harassment of female staff, you are an activist and a hero even if you get fired from your job for taking a stand. When you stop a child molester and bring him to justice, you are a hero and an activist. When you rescue poor village girls from slavery and prostitution, you are an activist and a hero.

Man Singh was a modern day Robin Hood and helped poor farmers fight for their rights in Bhind and Morena but he was shot dead by the police with 64 bullets because they were protecting the cruel land lords and not the exploited farmers in India. This kind of story is repeated all over the world even today because the rich and the powerful feel that they can do anything and get away with it but there comes a person with a mettle who says it is wrong what you are doing so it must stop.

Do you have the mettle?

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