[Dedicant Path Requirement] Courage

According to ADF, courage is “the ability to act appropriately in the face of danger.” I happen to like the American Heritage Dictionary’s spin on it: courage is “the ability to discern right action, and take it, regardless of consequences.” I think it is this second definition is closest to my idea of courage. It seems like there is something integral missing from ADF’s definition – courage is right action in the face of fear, but it’s something else, too. It’s right action no matter what, no matter the personal cost. An example I can give of it is monks who self-immolate as an act of protest; that is courageous. It is acting rightly in the interest of others, even in spite of your own well-being. Courage is often synonymous with altruism. But I think I would add that courage requires not only action, but deep thought and self-possession; resolution is integral to courage, because courage is a weighed thing. It is not courage if it is heedless. (In thise sense, the idea of ‘liquid courage’ is an interesting one, because it seems to me that you would only need to acquire it if you had assessed the situation, decided what needed done, and decided that you had to do it – and then tried to make it easier for yourself to do what needed done. It takes courage to decide that something you can’t face soberly needs done, and psych yourself up to do it anyway – even if you have to employ outside means.)
I think there’s certainly something to saying that courage is equivalent to ‘having heart’, or referring to deeply courageous people by names like ‘great heart’ or ‘great soul.’ That is because altruism and empathy are important components of courage. Being courageous is often not for one’s own benefit, but for others. It takes a great heart to move past one’s own powerful fear and act in the way that is necessary for others.
I also think in speaking of courage we should also put an emphasis on consequences – because I think the ability to not only take the right action but then ‘face the music,’ so to speak, is the core of courage. When I think of a myth that displays courage, I think of Sisyphus and his rock. Sisyphus displays courage because he defies the gods, but more importantly, because he eventually accepts the consequences. He is willing to die, but he is also willing to seize life, and again to pay for it (even if the payment is extortion).


About November Jones

November Jones lives in a small but very colorful house with three cats and her very noisy partner, codename: Batman.

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