Courage is fundamental virtue. It gives power to all the other virtues.
In the words of C.S. Lewis “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point”
Courage is not the absence of fear it is our ability to function in the face of fear. Without fear there is no courage.
No fear = No courage.
American cinema has sold us a very limited idea of courage usually in the form of the warrior or the explorer, bravely facing and overcoming physical danger. This is a limited view of courage and how important it is in everyday life.
There so many different forms of courage that trying to compare them would be difficult if not impossible. But without courage we remain stuck unable to advance.
You can’t compare the courage it takes to battle cancer with the courage it takes to become a doctor. Both are very brave acts. You can’t compare the courage it takes to become a World class athlete with the courage it takes to raise a physically or mentally challenged child. Both are incredible feats. You can’t compare a fire fighter who saves a life to an eight year old child who consistently stands up to a bully. Both acts are heroic.
Most of us don’t think of ourselves as brave people. In fact even people whose actions were clearly courageous and heroic rarely speak of themselves in those terms, they talk of their fear or simply doing what had to be done.
Then there is moral courage which takes many forms, essentially it compels or allows us to do the right thing in spite of for example; fear of job loss, fear of poverty, fear of losing friends, fear of criticism, fear of ostracism, fear of embarrassment, fear of making enemies, fear of losing status, to name but a few (of many possible) human fears. In addition one may fear a loss of ethical integrity or even a loss of authenticity if he or she fails to act in accord with conscience.
Courage makes life worthwhile.
It takes courage to live with compassion rather than simply closing our eyes to the suffering of others. To live with an open and vulnerable heart requires courage.
Courage is something that can be learnt through the practice of courageous acts. One can do physically courageous things eg. adventure sports. Also there are everyday actions which require courage and develop our capacity:
- Apologising (it takes both courage and humility)
- Being your authentic self (instead of what you think others want)
- Take responsibility for your feelings and emotions (it is so easy to blame how you feel on someone else, but blame means that you stay stuck)
- Forgive (forgiveness can be a truly heroic act and brings so many benefits)
- Commit to permanent growth (let everything be my teacher)
- Follow your dream or purpose Overcoming the invetible hardships and setbacks will make you grow in courage.