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Is It Time to Dare More Greatly?

Dr. Martin Luther King dared to believe. His words still offer truths that are bold and aspirational to guide us in political times that seem increasingly surreal. Read this list of dares from Dr. King (posted by Estrus Tucker at the Center for Courage and Renewal): Dare to forgive. Dare to be nonviolent. Dare to hope. And more.

This week, more than ever, don’t we need to dare greatly?

In the spirit of Dr. King, I created my own list of dares. I invite you to make yours. What do you hold most true? What calls you forth? What gives you courage?

I started with a list of ten manifesto-like dares, before moving on to a few smaller, more personal ones.

Ten Big Dares

1) Dare to laugh vigorously. Laugh at yourself. Laugh with the world.

2) Dare to ask big questions. Offer the kinds of questions that open doors rather than closing them.

3) Dare to speak your truth.  Boldly. Clearly. To those in power. Point out false facts, yet consider the truth of others. Speak up for those who can’t: the horses, the glaciers, the planet, the undocumented among us, the ones for whom speaking up is too risky or not physically possible.

4) Dare to not know. Whether you’re a CEO, new recruit, priest, or politician the world expects you to know. Don’t fall for the trap. Maintain your right to wonder and inquire.

5) Dare to cross divides. “The other” is everywhere: those who don’t look like us, think like us, vote like us. But the other is an illusion when what we share is much greater than what divides us. Look for the common bonds, even as you notice differences. And don’t project the pain of living in difficult times on others.

6) Dare to walk with those who need support. Helping others can be tricky, but you can always walk with, lend a hand, and listen. Dare to be kind and offer your own vulnerability.

7) Dare to take a pause. The world is spinning, you don’t have to. Time will keep marching on, but you can take time out and still rejoin the trail. Take time to reconnect to your own presence. Remember why you care. Then begin again.

8) Dare to create. The world needs your unique creative expression. Forget that voice that says that you have to be accomplished, or “good” or a celebrity to exercise your creative juices.  Pick up your pen, your hammer, your paint brush, your welder or your guitar. It’s your right to create. Claim it!

9) Dare to take heart, have faith, and dream big. Whether spiritual or secular, there’s a kernel of hope that gets you up in the morning. Listen it into being.

10) Dare to love yourself. We all long for love and connection. Forget the new age schmaltz: moving beyond our broken egos to love ourselves truly and deeply takes real courage—to accept our failings, forgive our mistakes, and acknowledge our humanness.  From that place of acceptance, we can open our hearts to the world with vulnerability and conviction.

My second list of dares included ones that were smaller and more personal.

A sample of small dares:


Dare to learn what’s happening politically while maintaining the distance I need to keep sane and move ahead.

Dare to stop when I start judging myself.

Dare to honor the complexity of feelings around my mother’s decline.

Dare to take feedback without going down or defending.

Dare to clean my office when I don’t want to and there are big projects to be done.

and many more.

Now your turn:

What can you dare that will help you rise up—and speak to who you are? Powerful. Foe to bullies and racists. Kind. Unstoppable.

I long to hear!

“With patient and firm determination we will press on until every valley of despair is exalted to new peaks of hope, until every mountain of pride and irrationality is made low by the leveling process of humility and compassion; until the rough places of injustice are transformed into a smooth plane of equality of opportunity; and until the crooked places of prejudice are transformed by the straightening process of bright-eyed wisdom.”  Dr. Martin Luther King





2 Responses

  1. This is what will appear on my Facebook page tomorrow: On the eve of the second Battle of the Marne, during WWI, the French general Ferdinand Foch famously telegraphed his superiors: “My center is giving way, my right is pushed back, situation excellent, I am attacking.” And damn if he didn’t attack and damn if he didn’t win. For many people today marks the beginning of what may turn out to be a struggle, how great and how protracted we do not know. It is not a case of being a sore loser. It is a case of trying to preserve that which is best about our humanity, the way we treat others and the way we treat ourselves. With all my heart, I urge you not to give in to fear, anguish or doubt. Your goodness can never be taken away from you. It can only be surrendered. Stay vigilant, stay daring, stay hopeful, stay strong and, above all, stay kind. New times demand new approaches, so I’m taking the liberty of paraphrasing the valiant Foch mixed in with some Gandhi: “The center is non-existent, the left is pushed back, situation excellent, I am resisting!”

    1. Thanks for your comments Burt. They are a brilliant source of energy, hope and drive at a time when many of us need this. “Situation excellent, we are resisting!”

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