You can read more about Ms. Hanson and the incident itself here: "Who Was Elizabeth Hanson." Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick was the person who investigated the tragedy. He wrote a book about it: THE TRIPLE AGENT.
Though the incident was tragic, it wasn't what lingered in my soul. As I contemplated, I started rereading the article on the website. That's when it occurred to me - it was something that I read that remained with me. It was a slogan written on a paperweight that Ms. Hanson kept on her desk. A question,
"What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"
My first reaction was - any person that had that for their motto must be ... must have been exceptional.
I asked myself the question.
But before an answer came to me, other individuals started popping into my head - my dad ... my wife ... the great inventor I apprenticed under as a journeyman mechanical engineer. Still others, heroes from the Bible and from history. Then more - people who overcame physical, financial, and psychological obstacles.
They were men and women of all ages and races. Some were known the world over, while others virtually anonymous. Yet, it occurred to me that all of these exceptional people had the same thing in common. They live(d) their lives in the spirit of that question. They live(d) their lives as if they knew they could not fail.
Each of them have achieved great goals in their own ways. Each of them have accomplished so much and not just financially; some spiritually, and others charitably. All of them have added chapters to the human story. And though their success stories be diverse, to me, the source of their success can be traced to the way they live(d) their lives.
"Fearlessly" is a silly word that should never be applied to people who have accomplished great feats. For without fear, whether it be fear of harm ... or loss of life ... or of failure ... or of letting others down, there would be no challenge. And without challenge, there is no overcoming, no accomplishment, no victory.
People that have accomplished great things are not individuals devoid of fear, but those who succeed by overcoming it. I'm sure you know some, perhaps even you are one. They are people of strong character, indomitable, relentless, tenacious ... extraordinary individuals. They don't quit though they are not always the strongest or fastest or smartest or boldest.
But they are always the bravest.
For bravery is not the trait of a fearless person, lest the reckless actions of a fool be considered brave. Bravery is the quality that allows us to overcome our fears and succeed.
It is said that, "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom." Perhaps then, overcoming that fear is the end of wisdom - its completion, leading to true oneness with the Most High.
For me, the answer to Ms. Hanson's motto is, "Exactly what I'm doing. Each evening, with fear, saying a prayer of thanks and asking for forgiveness, wisdom, and strength ... only to rise early the next morning renewed, brave and inspired. My prayers answered, in measure, according to my faith."
How about you? What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
I hope you read, THE EAGLE'S PLUME (ARCHANGEL, Mission Log #1). It is dedicated to the memory of a brave woman ... a patriot ... and yet another hero never mentioned, Elizabeth Hanson.