Home > Uncategorized > Courage – are we asking for too much?

Courage – are we asking for too much?

November 26, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

CourageOver time, people have attributed courage to all manner of actions that may indeed be admirable but very hardly compare to the conscious self-sacrifice on behalf of something greater than one’s own self-interest. In the present overly psychoanalyzed society, sharing one’s secret fears with others takes courage. Is the boxer’s guts in the ring an example of courage? Is suffering illness silently without complaining courageous? Not always. They may be everyday behavior typical of courageous people. They may be evidence of virtuousness. But of themselves, these acts, admirable though they are, are not sufficient proof of courage.

Courage is like stamina. The more we challenge it and exercise it, the stronger it gets. I sometimes worry that our collective courage is growing weaker from disuse. We don’t demand it from our leaders, and our leaders don’t demand it from us. The courage deficit is both our problem and our fault. As a result, too many leaders in the public and private sectors lack the courage necessary to honor their obligations to others and to uphold the essential values of leadership. Often, they display a startling lack of accountability for their mistakes and a desire to put their own self-interest above the common good.

That means trouble for us all, because courage is the enforcing virtue, the one that makes possible all the other virtues common to exceptional leaders: honesty, integrity, confidence, compassion, and humility. Churchill has rightly called courage – the first of human qualities since it guarantees all others – simply courage of our convictions. In short, leaders who lack courage aren’t leaders. Unfortunately, lack of courage is not the exclusive failing of political leaders, but our failings as well.

If we lack the courage to hold on to our beliefs in the moment of their testing then it is nothing but shallow respect for the virtues we profess. We can admire virtue and abhor corruption sincerely, but without courage we are corruptible.

Another way to look @ the whole thing… one thing we can claim definitively with complete confidence is that fear goes hand-in-hand with courage… fear must always be present for courage to exist. You must be afraid to have courage. Suffering is not, by itself, courage; choosing to suffer what we fear is. And yet, too great a distinction is made between moral courage and physical courage. They are in many instances the same. For either to be authentic, it must encounter fear and prove itself superior to that fear. By fear, I mean the kind that entails serious harm to ourselves, physical or otherwise, the kind that wars with our need to take action but which we overcome because we value something or someone more than our own well-being. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity to act despite our fears.

We’re all afraid of something. The one fear we must all guard against is the fear of ourselves. Don’t let the sensation of fear convince you that you’re too weak to have courage. Fear is the opportunity for courage, not proof of cowardice. No one is born a coward. So, are we asking for too much from each other???

  1. Arslan
    November 26, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    Your posts keep getting better. I enjoyed it..

  1. March 21, 2010 at 12:10 pm

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