Dignity/courageous examples of graceful responses

At times some extraordinarily courageous people have responded with remarkable grace when faced with cruel humiliation. Perhaps you can gain inspiration from their examples.

  • Vivien Theodore Thomas rose above poverty and racism to become a cardiac surgery pioneer and a teacher of operative techniques to many of the country's most prominent surgeons. He was the first African American without a doctorate degree to perform open heart surgery on a white patient in the United States.
  • Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was an African American civil rights activist, whom the U.S. Congress later called "the first lady of civil rights", and "the mother of the freedom movement". On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks, age 42, refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger.
  • Nelson Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). In 1962 he was arrested and convicted of sabotage and other charges, and sentenced to life in prison. Mandela served 27 years in prison, spending many of these years on Robben Island. Following his release from prison on 11 February 1990, Mandela led his party in the negotiations that led to multi-racial democracy in 1994. As president from 1994 to 1999, he frequently gave priority to reconciliation.
  • Following the 1981 assassination attempt Pope John Paul II asked people to "pray for my brother ( Ağca, his attempted assassin) ... whom I have sincerely forgiven."
  • The Truth and Reconciliation Commission — a court-like restorative justice body assembled in South Africa after the abolition of apartheid — chose truth, admission of guilt, and forgiveness rather than revenge for unspeakable acts of cruelty.
  • Despite being born without a right hand, Jim Abbott became a successful athlete. He won an gold metal at the 1988 summer Olympics, and went on to pitch a no-hitter as a New York Yankee. He currently works as a motivational speaker.