Saturday Selects: Ali

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the first Saturday of each month to discuss something outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today’s topic is Muhammad Ali.

He died last night, which I’d been expecting for a few days. Too many vague statements about his health situation. There’s been an outpouring of support in the hours since the news broke. Many people have been praising Ali the boxer while others praise Ali the humanitarian.

But for me it all comes down to one thing. The boxing doesn’t matter and the humanitarian efforts only came after his career was over. I’ve looked up to him for neither. But I’ve looked up to him for speaking out against war and the military draft. He gave millions of people a voice by standing up and sticking to his beliefs. He did something that we now take for granted. Imagine if every person who spoke out against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was suddenly unable to find work for more than three years. That would leave us with no presidential candidates left.

Ali has been great on several fronts, but what I appreciate the most is his unrelenting resolve to stand up for what he believed in. We could all take a page from him in that regard.

Rest easy, champ.

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