Courage is probably the most important of the virtues. As C.S Lewis says “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at its testing point.” Without Courage, would you be able to share your Wisdom whether or not it would be appreciated, or follow your Faith when those around you knock you down for it, or follow your Vision when everything around you tries to block your path?
In comparison to the lives of our Ancestors, our lives are much less fraught with events that require courage in order to just survive. We don’t need to be concerned about storing sufficient foodstuffs to survive a harsh winter. The path outside our door is now well mapped; the monsters and the unknown lands beyond it are now long gone.
However, is physical courage, courage that acts in defense or protection of something tangible, the only kind of courage? Not necessarily. While physical courage is both valued and important, so is moral courage – acting in defense or protection of the intangible. As Mark Twain said “It is curious – curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.” I’m not sure this is true now as it may have been in the past.
While working for a large law firm, a friend of mine watched as another co-worker was sexually assaulted by one of the senior partners. Knowing full well that it would not only cost her current job but also any chance she had to become a lawyer herself, she reported the incident and refused to back down on her testimony. Courage of this type is apparently becoming more prevalent: the nurse who notices that the doctor she works with is altering the numbers on his billing statements and reports it; the young man working at a very conservative company asks about insurance benefits for his boyfriend. Even with the possibility of losing their jobs, they still stood up for what they perceived as right. They displayed their personal Integrity.
In the Dedicant’s Handbook, Courage is defined as “The ability to act appropriately in the face of danger.” That doesn’t really work well for me. I feel that moral courage is of a higher need now than physical courage. Yes, if I had to, I’d run and grab a child in danger of being run over, or any other event that I had the skills to deal with. But even without physical skills, I can try to be morally courageous throughout my life. My definition of Courage: “The quality of mind, body, and spirit to face any situation firmly and confidently.”