Deke posted a bit ago (right here in fact in the post “Taking the leap”) about the need to kinda surrender oneself to faith. He used an example of leaping out of an airplane (yes with a parachute) and the relative levels of courage involved with the process both for the people who don’t take the leap ultimately and for those who do.
It sparked a couple thoughts. First, I thought it was kinda cool that Deke didn’t suggest that the person who shows up at the airplane and then passes on getting on board to go up and jump was a coward. His points seemed to be relative levels of courage. Those who even show up have some level of courage to get that far, just not enough (or the right kind of courage) to make the leap.
The other thing is got me to thinking about is that fear isn’t the absence of courage and courage isn’t the absence of fear. Alot of people make the mistake of thinking so just like they get it in there craniums that love is the absence of hate or that hate (or even anger) is the absence or lack of enough love.
Before I ramble any more though, a famous quote:
Courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgement that something else is more important than fear. – Ambrose Redmoon
I have no idea who Ambrose Redmoon is and don’t really care to find out since the important thing was that he had a cool quote that fits my post today.
Anyhoo here’s the deal:
Courage, real courage, is about making the right choice and putting someone or something ahead of yourself. It has little to do with conquering fear and maybe absolutely nothing to do with it.
People who are scared don’t lack enough courage. They simply have fear that blinds or paralyzes them to better options. People who are brave don’t fight past their fears as much as they simply discover that being afraid can’t be enough to hold them back.
I say this mostly because I want to sound deep…no no, that’s not right (but I HOPE it does). I say this because I think that people sometimes overuse the word courage.
A woman takes on the care of a relative’s child when that relative dies or she goes to school while raising three kids and working three jobs in the absence of a husband and people say, “She’s so brave to do that.”
A man makes a rational business decision to save a company and put it on the right track and people say “That was a courageous move” just because it might piss off some board members and get him yelled at or something or even fired thus allowing him to cash in on his golden parachute.
There are brave people and courageous actions in the world. The two example I gave above are simply people doing the right thing. Something they shouldn’t think twice about doing. Running into a burning building to save someone you don’t know strikes me as courageous. Quitting a job you need badly because it would be morally reprehensible and wrong to keep doing that job may be brave.
I think bravery should be honored. But I don’t think we should roll out praise for courageousness when people are only doing what they should have done in the first place.