Lessons for Living
How have you been courageous?
|What is courage? The
philosopher Aristotle tells us that it's an integration of two opposing tendencies. In any
threatening situation, whether it's facing a stranger in a dark alley or speaking up to
correct a wrong, we have two options.
One is based in fear and sends us shrinking away in avoidance of any possible conflict. The other is a show of bravado that rushes into a risky situation without sufficiently considering the consequences. One way seems weak while the other seems too rash.
If, however, you make neither choice but stand in the middle ground between these two possibilities, you will be showing courage.
Courage comes when you neither run away in fear nor yield to the impulse of boldly rushing ahead.
To be courageous doesn't require you to be fearless or to aggressively confront every challenge. Courage is a blending of these opposite impulses and comes in many forms.
On the battlefield it's standing your ground when under fire.
However, it also takes courage to stick it out in a difficult job rather than quitting in an angry huff or resigning with a weakly worded letter of regret.
Courage is required to see it through in a troubled relationship rather than storming out or bailing out.
It takes courage to provide loving care for your spouse with Alzheimer's disease rather than giving up in despair or lashing out in anger at the injustice of it all.
We can all become courageous, if we are willing to stand in that difficult place between the call of two extremes and resist being pulled in either direction. This is a very tough choice because it requires acknowledging both our fear and anger but then waiting before acting. The practice of patience is required, and it may be that patience is the real key to courage.
If when in a threatening situation, you can intentionally slow down enough to consider your alternatives before taking action, you may find yourself becoming a more courageous person.