30 Apr In Due Season
As the saying goes, “good things come in small packages.” In the case of Harriet Tubman, a great, phenomenal woman came in the form of a petite, five-foot tall package. She was indeed a woman of courage, strength and determination. As we celebrate the selection of Harriet Tubman as the new face of the $20 bill, let us reflect on what distinguished this woman in history and what lessons we can learn from her life.
- Go back – We are all familiar with the story of Harriet Tubman as the “conductor” of the Underground Railroad who helped numerous slaves escape to freedom. She went back time and time again and risked her own freedom to free her family members. It would have been easy for her to move forward, to never look back and to say there was nothing she could do, but she refused to do that. Harriet Tubman went back and pulled others up with her. As we are excelling in our lives and doing bigger and better things we need to remember to go back and to pull others up with us. It is easy to think there is nothing we can do to help someone else; to think that if we made it, they can do it too. But sometimes people can use some help navigating the tough terrain of life. Our guidance can be just the light they need to find the right path.
- Use what you have – If Harriet Tubman had done nothing else but help free slaves she would still be worthy of admiration for her courage and determination; however, her story does not end there. Harriet Tubman went on to serve in the Civil War. Apparently, the experience she had gained from freeing slaves was what made her such a valuable asset to the efforts of the Civil War. She took the same passion and skills that she used to free dozens of slaves and put that towards the greater cause of freeing all the slaves. Whatever skills we are perfecting on our jobs or on a small scale project may eventually be used for a bigger purpose. We have to be ready to use what we have and the skills we have mastered for whatever opportunities may lie ahead.
- Broaden your focus – Harriet Tubman went on to support the Women’s Suffrage movement. She recognized that her passion for equal rights didn’t just end with slaves. As a woman she knew firsthand the inequalities that women faced and once again used her experience to fight for a greater cause. Sometimes we place ourselves in a box. We may say we are for equal rights but then refuse to support it when applied to a segment of the population we don’t approve of. We may be willing to give to the poor via a charity but we drive past the homeless person that is right in front of us. Whatever we think our passion is today, it can be so much greater. It may start as a small flame but it is waiting for just the right fuel to start a full blown fire.
Ironically, Harriet Tubman spent her life sacrificing and giving to others and to this country but during her lifetime she received little in return. She lived most of her life in poverty. It is only due justice that her face should adorn the one thing that she had so little of during her life. Harriet Tubman invested her blood, sweat and tears in the currency of freedom and equal rights for those born of African descent and for women in this country. Finally, it is her season and she is getting her due.