We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I got to thinking late last night about what we describe as courage and as fear. A thunderstorm in the early evening clearly disturbed Dexter, but Comet remained unperturbed. Dexter can boldly rush out to bark at a noise, but lets Comet go first if a stranger approaches. In recent weeks, media coverage of politics, hurricanes, earthquakes, and the toll on communities highlight more fear than acts of courage. Among many in the so-called First World, manipulation of fear and unfounded assertion is masked as courage, while courage is really something else entirely.
Some of the most courageous people I know are not superheroes, soldiers nor daredevils. They are not political activists nor “social justice” warriors. On the contrary, they are bloggers, ministers, store clerks, teachers, secretaries, carpenters and students. People who live a little differently due to life experience. These are people who did not give up living when given a prognosis of a terminal illness or chronic disease; suffered debilitating injuries; left homes, jobs, and comfort to help others during natural disasters; stood up to schoolyard bullies; or overcame shyness and self-doubt to excel in high school sports.
Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave. Mary Tyler Moore
In the blogosphere, we can read about those who have overcome eating disorders and now encourage tens of thousands of readers by her or his example. Others who share insight, joy, sorrows, pain, art, photography, humor, and poetry. Many are coping courageously with autoimmune diseases, nervous system diseases, and mental illness. Some convert fear to inner strength while recovering from occupational injuries, financial hardships, personal indiscretions, and physical or mental abusive relationships.
For others, courage is leaving comfort of an air-conditioned, instant-gratification, self-centered culture and traveling to remote corners of the globe to learn, to teach, to assist and in the process, begin to understand others. Fear would be reasonable among those who courageously stand on principle – human rights, equal access to education, or call attention to corruption, human trafficking, and terrorism – where poverty, sickness and violence are the norm. Some have suffered assassination, accusation, disfigurement, kidnapping, sexual assault and imprisonment.
These are all examples of those who built dikes to hold back fear.