Timothy Snyder’s last lesson in On Tyranny is:

“Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die under tyranny.”

You may think that courage should be left to the professionals like trained military special forces, but notice that he says “be as courageous as you can.” No one expects a middle-aged housewife to take on enemy soldiers ninja-style. But she doesn’t need to. What Dutch-Paris illustrates so clearly is that the kind of courage needed to defend our freedom belongs to men and women of every age and every occupation. The line was made up of businessmen, teachers, students, clergy, widows, café owners, secretaries, bankers, engineers, insurance agents, salesmen and farmers. Not one of them carried a gun. They were sensible enough to be afraid, but they overcame that fear. Each did what his or her circumstances and personal resources allowed. Together, being as courageous as they could be in defense of the human rights that they believed in, the 330 men and women of Dutch-Paris rescued 3,000 other human beings from the Nazis. Each one was as courageous as he or she could be, and that was enough.