Looking for the Meaning of Courage
Looking for the Meaning of Courage
Where do we find our courage? Where do we even begin to define it? A lot of us are inspired by the quotes of great people; not necessarily just famous people, but truly great ones. I often find strength in the words of Patrick Henry, who stood up to a monarchy threatening war and said “Let it come!” I find perseverance in the writings of George Washington, who suffered alongside his starving men and endured what they did in the cause of liberty. I find inspiration in the faces of Israelis who live and work in the tiny little country they’ve managed to hang on to for less than a hundred years, thumbing their nose at the idea of being surrounded by millions whose sole focus is exterminating them.
I find courage in the knowledge that others have been where we are today. The founders faced torture, imprisonment, and death. Separation from their families, loss of everything they owned, loss of their lives. They must have been terrified. Only 3 out of every hundred colonists believed enough to risk it all. They were outnumbered, outgunned, outfunded. But Washington was right; a free man contending for liberty on his own land is a force unlike any other. Their courage came not from the absence of fear, but because what they fought for was so much more important.
Too many people mistake fear as a safety mechanism, meant to keep us from doing dangerous or painful things. They are wrong; fear is the gutcheck meant to help us know the things truly worth going after, the things worth sacrificing it all for. I am not afraid of the easy things; I am afraid of the difficult things…the things that will cost me. The things that I most need to do, that make the most difference. No one is afraid of blogging or ranting from the comfort of their anonymous keyboard. Ask them to stand next to you to block a bus full of illegals, however, and they are suddenly busy. Ask them to prepare with you, to train with you, to mentally ready themselves for what is coming and they have all the excuses in the world.
Perusing websites tonight looking for new bits of wisdom, I realized how little there is. So many shallow, meaningless words spoken by people who think they understand the deeper things in life. To them, adversity is some abstract concept tied to stupid phrases like “class warfare.” Courage to these people is an athlete announcing that in his spare time, he sleeps with other men. Courage to them is a woman standing up and saying, “Yes, I killed my child, and I’m proud of it.”
One particularly insipid example came from C. Joybell C.:
“If I am to be fallen into love, I will. And if as a result I will appear to be stupid, disillusioned, and of poor judgment, I will. And I would be damned if I cared what other people think. For I would rather be thought of as all of these things, than not love. If in loving, I become the naked woman on the horse, I will ride that horse with my head held high. This is my spirit. I am unbreakable.”
This is her definition of unbreakable? This is courage? No. This is tripe.
So many people operate in this fantasy idea of life, filled with platitudes about “believing in yourself” and “finding your inner goddess” and lots more fuzzy nonsense meant to make us feel good about ourselves even though we know deep down that it’s all a big pile of dung, crapped out by the horse Miss I-Am-Unbreakable is riding around on naked. You don’t need to “feel good about yourself” in order to do the right thing. You just need to do it.
Courage comes from feeling the fear, and choosing to do what needs to be done anyway. It comes from a conscious decision that what can be gained is worth it—or what can be lost is unfathomable. I feel that fear. I don’t want to be put into a position where I have to fight anyone. I don’t want to be asked to give up my creature comforts. I want to be respected and loved. I don’t want to get hurt or imprisoned or ridiculed. I do not want to give my life…but I will.
If the day comes—and rest assured it is coming—that I am asked to defend what I hold dear, then I will. Not because I am unafraid, but because it is what needs to be done.
“For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and to provide for it.”–Patrick Henry