21 July 2010

The Definition Of Courage, Bravery and Change...

"Courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other." ~Samuel Johnson

The first thing I think of when I hear the words courage or bravery is 'soldier', 'sailor', 'marine', 'airman', 'coast guard', 'policeman' and 'fireman'. People who put their safety on the line every day for others.  Unfortunately, recognition and medals for courage and bravery are never given to their families.  But I have come to realize that my definition of courage and bravery is very narrow.

I have discovered that it does not take into account the people who are in unhealthy or dangerous relationships but leave even though they fear for the safety of themselves or others.  Those people who help others in this situation even though it places them in danger.

My narrow definition of courage does not take into account any person, adult or child, who is willing to stand up to bullies because a life is more important than someone else's good impression, a job promotion or peer pressure. 

My narrow definition does not take into account the struggle to accept catastrophic changes to someone's life.  The adjustment of that life being redirected without a person's consent. The feeling of being lost or set adrift because suddenly everything someone had mapped out for their life has been wiped away due to events beyond their control.

My narrow definition does not take into account the courage it sometimes takes for family and friends of loved ones who are struggling with disaster, heartbreak and loss.  To accept the fact that sometimes, as desperately as you want to ease their pain,  there is nothing you can do except let them know you care.  The heart and determination to silently watch and listen. "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." ~Winston Churchill

"Sometimes even to live is an act of courage." ~Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Letters to Lucilius

My narrow definition does not recognize the bravery it takes to accept that the person you are inside you is truly the only thing you have control over.  To know and accept that the only control anyone has is what you say and how you react to the events and people around you.  Irving Berlin once said that "Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it."

My narrow definition does not take into account the bravery required to make life choices.  For there are always choices whether or not any of the choices are ones that you would wish for.  You either live life with the hand you are dealt and work toward a better outcome with the next deal or you choose to not play by laying down your cards.  Bravery is being honest enough with yourself about the knowledge that not making a choice is a choice in and of itself and to take responsibility for it.

"Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared." ~Edward Vernon Rickenbacker

My narrow definition of courage does not take into account the bravery required to step outside of your comfort zone and attempt a path unknown.  Someone once said "More powerful than the will to win is the courage to begin."  Whether the new path is required because your current path is taking you nowhere you want to be or you are forced to turn from your path because of circumstances beyond your control. "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." ~Ambrose Redmoon

My narrow definition does not take into account the courage it takes to overcome the fear of the unknown that you are allowing to guide and control your future.  Orison Swett Marden once said, "Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them."

My definition of courage does not acknowledge that the level of difficulty of bravery is different for every person, situation and level of fear.  Comparing the courage required to face my fear should never be compared to the courage required by someone else to face their own fear. "Every man has his own courage, and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear. Except a creature be part coward it is not a compliment to say it is brave." ~Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar, 1894

My narrow definition does not take into account the time that may be required to have courage without faltering.  Sometimes courage takes time to be recognized and that makes the fear seem that much more unlikely to ever be conquered.  By changing a path, you may have to walk quite a while to start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and be confident that it is not an oncoming train.  It takes courage to always remember that everything does not always happen in one day.  It takes courage to be patient and not discouraged by lack of immediate results.  It takes courage to be consistent and persistent especially when you are scared out of your wits. 

My narrow definition does not take into account that taking only small baby steps to overcome a fear is a very real act of courage because of the very willingness to take action instead hiding and cowering.  Sometimes taking consistent baby steps will get you farther than taking larger steps and losing confidence only to seek the comfort of the known no matter how painful"Sometimes the biggest act of courage is a small one." ~Lauren Raffo 

When it comes to overcoming fear I know from personal experience that it is not easy to achieve.  If it were, I'd already be there.  "Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow." ~Mary Anne Radmacher

Every human being on earth have or will experience disaster, heartbreak and challenge.  You will always have two choices in how you will react to it.  You will have the courage to survive and take advantage of whatever opportunities happen to come your way because while there is life there is always hope.  Or you will not survive and you will choose to allow it to bury you. 

The perspective I now have of my definition of courage seems to have expanded.   How is your perspective?
QOTD: "The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy." ~John F. Kennedy

2 Intelligent Comments:

Christie Critters said...

So today it was your turn to make me think. And oddly enough, it was a topic that I really needed today; needing the courage to just put one foot in front of the other and keep slogging along. So now, I'll finish my coffee and go do it.

Lemon Stand said...

There have been many times where I thought I just couldn't scrounge up the courage to even step outside my house. I've learned I'm not courageous most of the time, but when I remind myself that the ONLY way I can fail is to not try at all, I seem to find the ability somewhere.