C is for COURAGE
Courage is a word that stirs up many thoughts in a person. If you ask a six year old to describe courage, for instance, you may hear a tale of a Jedi going into battle to conquer the evil ones out there in the universe. They will describe light saber battles and hand to hand combat and give you a blow by blow of the courage of her/his hero. If you ask a thirteen year old about courage, you may hear how someone faced off against someone else at school, or in the park, stood their ground and beat the enemy to a pulp. Naturally the hero of the day. Ask a teen just out of high school about courage and it may be that a little drag race on a back road for pink slips shows real courage and the winner holds the title to a new car. Then life slips in with its realities.
A college student will sometimes describe courage as the ability to get up before the class and do a presentation or give a speech. Or to take a class that is particularly hard for them and pass it. By the same token, another will find it courageous to interview for a prospective employer that they feel could make or break their future. Or maybe they are deciding whether or not to get married and make a commitment to another being.
COURAGE DEPENDS ON WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU FACE.
To me, courage definitely comes from within. It is not bravery and should not be misconstrued as the same thing. “Courage” is a very wonderful friend I have who faces pain from cancer ravaging her body everyday and still feeds the feral cats dumped off on her street, calls to see how others are doing, and smiles with sincere pleasure at seeing her friends and being with them. Yes, that is COURAGE.
Courage is another very dear friend we have who is empathic and takes on the pain of others and tries to emit positive energy as well as kind words and deeds to help anyone who hurts. The other night I thanked her for sending positive healing energy and she said, “I felt many needed rest so I just sent it out everywhere to everyone.” Courage to feel with others, that is special. To share your love without reservation to help those around you who need some kindness without hesitating—that’s COURAGE.
Let me share an example of courage I often see and admire. A group of friends, co-workers, or people simply congregating will start talking about someone else, or see someone who is “different” in some way and make a snide remark or degrading comment about the person. Courage is not joining in. Not laughing at a cruel joke, not adding to the degradation of another, refusing to be mean so you don’t become the one that’s different—that’s COURAGE. I have seen peers, the kind-hearted, sages, people you would never consider brave or courageous, refuse to taunt or tease another being, holding true to what they feel to be right. Their refusal to participate takes courage since they may be turned on at any moment simply from not joining in.
Courage is stopping and seeing those in need and supporting them. Courage is sharing whatever you have to relieve the pain for others in some small way. Courage is stopping to pick up a stray animal from a roadside when the others in the car are asking, “Are you crazy?” Courage is holding the hand of someone who is terrified to fly in a plane sitting next to you. Courage.
The list could go on and on—letting the tears fall unashamedly when someone you love hurts or a human or animal is the victim of abuse. Standing by a friend when no one else will. Fighting to get past your own pain to help another. Asking for forgiveness when you know you’ve done wrong. Asking for help when you know pride is all that is holding you back. Saying, “I am here for you,” and meaning it. Saying, “I love you” and showing it.
Courage is standing up for your values, your beliefs, your dreams—whether they are popular or not. And for those you care for, whether they are popular or not. Look at the courage displayed through the #me too movement. Look at the people uniting against hate with courage. Look around. Courage abounds even as threats are made and consequences are seen for those such as the DREAMERS.
Courage comes from within. Courage does not come from sheep who follow blindly, unthinkingly. Courage comes from within your soul, your convictions, your utmost self. We each have it, we just need to recognize it. Then we use it for good—for love—for peace.
DARE TO BE COURAGEOUS