Courage Under Fire

The Help and War Horse need no introduction. Excellent movies both, but this is not another rave review. It’s just that it got me thinking on the one single theme that resonated deeply and boldly throughout both films.

Courage.

From WikipediaFrom Wikipedia

Courage to hold one’s head up high and walk in dignity in the face of demeaning cruelties. Courage to not blindly imitate the current attitudes of the day. Courage to say no to apathy.

It sometimes seems as if our world has misunderstood the essence of courage and has substituted it by becoming more brazen, brash, shameless and defiant. Being obnoxious is the new self-confidence. Being greedy and self-seeking is the new self-love. Have we relegated courage to exist only on the big screen and confined it to the attribute of super heroes?

Being courageous is never easy. It demands that self-preservation be put aside. It oftentimes means having to dig deep within for an inner strength to do the right thing.  For me it is the hundred little things that happen in a day which determine if I stand up for what is right or if I am secretly just a coward inside.

Courage may be the most important of all virtues, because without it one cannot practice any other virtue with consistency ~ Maya Angelou

  • Women of the world – it takes courage to develop inner beauty when sometimes it seems that only outer beauty gets rewarded.
  • Fathers and mothers – it takes courage to educate your children and to impart values and virtues counter to current parenting norms.
  • Married couples – it takes courage to rock the boat and take stock so that the marriage does not dwindle to become merely a means for personal fulfilment.
  • Friends – it takes courage to deepen a friendship beyond pleasant formalities or easy familiarities.
  • Every young person – it takes courage to independently investigate the truth. Never be afraid to see with your own eyes and not the eyes of another. Never blindly imitate.

I think the most courageous act we can ever do in our lives is the courage to look deep within ourselves. 

It is always easier to justify, blame, attack and defend instead of changing ourselves. It takes bravery of a different kind to confess to ourselves that we have been wrong. It takes guts to come out of self-denial.

Isn’t it so true that the greatest prison is the prison of self.

One of the most enlightening books I have read is Prescription for Living written by the late Ruhiyyih Rabbani (1910 – 2000). In this little book packed with revolutionary world changing ideas, the author writes:

Of all the unpleasant jobs that require doing in this life, probably the most unpleasant is to sit down with yourself, remove your spectacles of self-esteem and foolish little conceits, and take a good look at your own character.

It is so much nicer to have illusions, it is so much nicer to run away into some playground of forgetfulness, it is so much more comfortable to find an excuse and say, “Well, I have not time for this today”, or “It might upset me and I cannot afford to be upset right now.”

But the trouble still is with us inside. We had better get after it. The initial wrench may be painful, but once the tooth is out the ache will go away.

In the movies, such moments of resolve and epiphany are portrayed in such a beautiful way we are inspired by the romance of being courageous. These moments are  usually accompanied by soul-stirring music and thunderous applause. Fireworks and dancing follow soon.

But in real life, our acts of courage are mostly unseen, oftentimes unacknowledged and definitely absent of any trumpet sounding finale to mark the occasion. Courage is often a lonely journey and yet one which we all need to make if we are to count for something.

  • What does it mean to you in your life right now to be a person of courage? I would really love to hear from you and any thoughts you might have on this subject after reading this post. Thank you!
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