I had not been a Navy SEAL very long, and the situation was escalating quickly. For the past two days we had been on a mission. A Black Hawk from the aircraft carrier had dropped our Zodiac (small inflatable boat) and us miles off the mainland. We had completed the mission on land, but during that time, every single electronic device we possessed had died or stopped working properly.

We were now on our boat heading to make a rendezvous with a smaller patrol boat. We were all hungry, exhausted, and cold. Over the next four hours, the ocean and weather became malicious. The forecast had not predicted this, and we were paying for it. We all held on tightly to each other and the boat as gale force rains and frigid waves pounded the craft and nearly capsized us multiple times through the night. We literally had nothing but a compass, a direction, and each other…

Make no mistake about it; we are in the middle of a storm. Generations before have only been able to whisper of equality, and many in our lifetime have been shamed, harassed, and even murdered for it. This hurricane will not end on a federal ruling or a change in State laws. In fact, consider that the eye of the storm. For states fortunate enough to make it that far, it is a brief moment in time to celebrate what has been accomplished, and to prepare for the inevitable difficulties still to come.

Every one of us has it in our power to positively influence four aspects of our lives. How I am as a friend, as an employee or employer, as a significant other, and most importantly as a father or mother. As a Navy SEAL, I was fortunate to work alongside incredible mentors who showed me, through their words and actions, the daily sacrifices and struggles that are required to achieve that positive influence.

Years later, my husband would describe that ethos to me as the age-old application of the four cardinal virtues: Courage, demonstrated in our ability to confront fear and the unknown; Wisdom, as defined in our aptitude to choose appropriate actions at any given time; Restraint, as described in our capacity to exhibit self-control; Lastly, and most importantly, Fairness, and finding that difficult balance between selfish and selfless.

By applying those four virtues to the four aspects of our life, we can positively influence amazing and powerful shifts in our culture and day-to-day life. Like most of us living in red states, I look forward to the day when I can watch my son play baseball without feeling the stares of aversion from other parents, or when the comfort of kissing or holding my husband’s hand comes before cognizance of our location.

Brandon Webb: Why I joined the Navy SEAL Teams

Read Next: Brandon Webb: Why I joined the Navy SEAL Teams

To get there, we must abstain from blackmailing people, from demeaning and ridiculing religious and political beliefs that oppose our own, and from becoming less than who we are as people on public forums like social media and the news. Those actions only serve to segregate based on differences, rather than embracing our diversities. We have to take this to the only place where we will find common ground, and that is on the high road.

There is a reason they call it the high road, and that is because it’s difficult. It takes courage, wisdom, fairness, and restraint as individuals and as a community. We must live our lives as examples to our children, friends, loved ones and colleagues. It is on those grounds where positive changes are made in the consciousness of those who would oppress you. We have an incredible opportunity in front of us; we can show the next generation how men and women of virtue can change the entire course of history in just one lifetime.

(Featured Image Courtesy: Wikimedia)