“It takes courage to be different and the price is high but if we do not pay it now — we will surely pay it later.”
When Rabbi Olan gave this radio address on January 15, 1961, his focus was on the societal costs associated with conformity and non-conformity, particularly in the face of political or religious struggles. With several pointed examples from ancient Greece to the American Revolution to Susan B. Anthony to the time of this sermon, he shows that by not conforming to the dominant or expected point of view — by standing up for what’s right — brave young people have consistently improved the circumstances of individuals, communities, nations, and the world. And although there is always sacrifice involved, the need for such bravery continues to this day.
“To stand for what we believe is right no matter what the others say and do is a daring thing.”
Five days after this address, John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President of the United States — the youngest elected president in our history and the first Roman Catholic. Just a few months into his term, he himself would say at the General Assembly of the United Nations: “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”