While checking the definition of the word coward, I came up with some not-so-surprising results that reminded me of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden who is currently holed up at a Moscow air terminal’s transit section waiting for an opportunity to flee to a place where he could hide and avoid having to answer for his treasonous actions against the U.S. and the American people.
A coward is “a person who lacks the courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things” says one dictionary, which adds: “a coward is one who shows disgraceful fear or timidity.” Synonyms of the word include chicken, craven, dastard, funk, recreant, and sissy. A coward is the opposite of a hero, and the word coward is the antonym of valiant.
The word valiant, on the other hand, reminded me of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. Mandela fought the injustice of apartheid and faced his persecutors. He defended his position, suffering a long and atrocious prison sentence in the process. Mandela was steadfast – he was right, and time would prove it. Mandela kept fighting until he had the battle won, a costly but victorious struggle. Never was there a moment when he thought of fleeing and hiding, even when he had chances to do so. It was paramount that he proved he was right – and he could do that only by facing the music, answering the charges, and fighting to the bitter end. Imagine what history would be like today had Mandela ran and hid in some foreign country instead of fighting for what he knew was right.
Edward Snowden? How could he face the music when he knows deep inside of himself that he is wrong, that he had violated the trust of his employer, endangered the security of his country and his people – and that there was no way he would be vindicated. If for one moment Snowden strongly believes in the justness of his actions he should come home, turn himself in, answer the charges and prove his claims. There is no better way to avoid being branded a coward.