Courage, I have been thinking about this a lot lately. When I think of someone courageous I often think about the hero of the show, bravely saving the day, doing amazing things that make others stand back in awe. We may not view ourselves as having courage. We don’t all save people from burning buildings or make the news for acts of great bravery.
We have all seen the film the wizard of OZ, the wonderful story of Dorothy a young girl who finds herself in the land of Oz with her little dog Toto, searching for the way home. Along the way she meets some wonderful characters including a cowardly Lion. Of course lions are known for being “The Kings of Beasts,” but the Lion in the wizard of OZ believes that his fear makes him a coward.
But does having fear mean we don’t have courage?
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” (Nelson Mandela)
Courage can mean many things, it can be facing a fear, acting with bravery or dealing with a challenging situation. Having courage doesn’t mean we don’t have fear, but instead that we face those fears. Just like the lion in the wizard of OZ, courage means doing something we fear, or that makes us feel that fear, something that the lion does frequently without realising it. This can be true of us also. We maybe so consumed with the things we feel we aren’t doing, we forget all the things we are doing on a daily basis that require courage. For some it maybe just stepping outside the front door everyday, for others it may be standing in front of a room full of work colleagues to give a presentation. Others it may be saving lives in war torn countries. Yes we all show courage every day. Sometimes it is good at the end of the day to reflect on the things we have done despite being fearful and give ourselves commendation for what we have achieved. The lion was so blinded by what he thought he feared that he missed his courage that was clear to those around him.
“The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.”
Sometimes courage isn’t a brave act or facing a fear its simply getting from one moment to the next. There are many wonderful people struggling day to day. Their lives are full of challenges. Serious health conditions, caring for a sick loved one, struggling with poor housing or economic issues can make just getting by each day hard. Coping with pain on a daily basis can strip individuals of joy and make even the most simple of tasks so difficult. Mental health issues can leave ones struggling, lacking in self worth, feeling lost and alone, sometimes even questioning whether they want to be here. Living in poverty and trying to care and provide for a family are daily battles for many. Working long hours and finding it hard to make ends meet greatly affects their life. There is also those who care for sick loved ones. Watching loved ones in pain, coping to care for their needs while often trying to work or care for other family members can be exhausting and overwhelming. Yet in this living from one moment to the next there is great courage, they are not acts that are noticed, instead day to day these individuals quietly carry on, giving much to others with little left for themselves. They do not view themselves as brave, courageous lions, yet they are, they are strong, brave, courageous and wondrous of heart. We can look around us and see these ones in our life, kind words and warm encouragement can make a big difference and help them continue to be courageous.
“The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow.”
Courage sometimes takes the role of great bravery in standing up to change things, to not follow the status quo. It is hard, to stand up, to be different, to speak up and challenge. It maybe at work, in maybe with our family, it may be on wider levels with organisations or strong individuals. Sometimes we can be a lone voice trying to be heard. We can feel like sometimes the battle is too big and we are just too small. It takes courage to go on, to keep trying, to not conform. Yet this courage is needed, it is needed to make our world better, to protect the vulnerable and the weak. Sometimes being courageous will make us unpopular, disliked or ridiculed. Not everyone who is courageous is viewed as a hero. But what matters is that we are true to our hearts and what we know is right. Sometimes courage is known only by us in our own heart.
So what does showing courage give us?
Courage is a kind of salvation. (plato)
Courage is a virtue we all show in one way or another, it may be big or small, it may be quietly or loudly, but what it gives us is other virtues and inner happiness.
Courage gives us hope that we can get through a difficult situation, that we can make a change or we can overcome fears. Hope in turn emboldens us to show more courage.
Courage is truth, it helps us be who we truly are, it gives us the strength to be honest and genuine. When we are who we are meant to be, courage grows stronger and we become our complete self our gifts to be offered freely to help others.
Courage means justice, because we strive to do what is right, not conforming, but standing up for others and ourselves. It means that we fight for what is right even if everyone else says its wrong.
Courage is bound with love. Often acts of courage are from hearts of love, it burns and ignites the strength needed to overcome even the most difficult of situations. Love and courage strengthen each other, for to show true love often requires deep courage, and true love makes even the weakest strong and brave.
We don’t have to be a fearless lion to show courage or roar, sometimes courage is shown by the quietist of people, in the smallest of ways.
Courage can go unnoticed by others or can change the world.
Sometimes courage is just you, a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow. Yes courage is part of us all. Courage dear heart.