Thursday, March 7, 2013


What is courage? What is cowardice? What makes some people brave and some not?

Many philosophers have discussed it; the Strange Familiar has written a song about it; poems, specifically "epics" have been dedicated to "brave" people.The quality of braveness looks different in the eyes of different people. Also, what one person might not be afraid of another would be very afraid of, so which parameters can we use then? How many acts of bravery does it take to make one brave or a coward? Does it all depend on the magnitude or, at least, the amount of courage that that person needed? I don't know.

I've been thinking about courage while going through this whole grieving process/depression thing and while learning more about the civil rights movement. I'm wondering which one really is courage because they're both so different. My struggle almost pales in comparison. Yet does it still count?

Maybe courage is whatever you want it to be. It varies from person to person because people are so different. My anxieties may not be a lot to most people but it takes everything I have to push past it. For other people, juggling grades and entering social situations and taking risks isn't nearly as difficult as it is for me. Is that still an act of courage? Or is courage reserved for the very best?

I have been called "brave" in a variety of contexts. Yet how can I be considered brave when so many people have accomplished much more? Me standing up for what I believe is nothing compared to, say, civil rights workers standing up for what they believe in. Me being myself is nothing compared to gay kids in small town Texas being themselves. Yet does that scale really matter? Brave is still brave no matter to what extent, especially considering the cowardly route is still there.

Sometimes, I admonish myself for not being braver. Yet I am only human and I am doing the best with what I have. Perhaps that is courage onto itself.

Yet what is the bravest thing of all? It is easy to say some stupid breakneck stunt but that is stupid, not brave (there is a very thin line between those but it exists nonetheless). It is easy to say saving someone's life or sticking to your convictions is but I don't know. Sometimes, I feel the bravest people are the ones who go through daily struggles. So, for them, the bravest thing is deciding to keep holding on or, sometimes, letting go.

Yes, sometimes I have acted cowardly. Sometimes, others have acted cowardly towards me. Cowardice is more easily defined than bravery and so much more hurtful. So many people on the news have done terrible things because they were afraid. But why? Is it because fear is primal? Easier? Does it make it right? I'm not sure and I don't know if that even matters. I must forgive myself and them for that, though. We are only human after all.

Courage is doing the right thing. Courage is letting go and letting loose. Courage is speaking up. Courage is so many things, so many different people, so many actions. Is there really a point in defining it? All that matters is that courage keeps the world going and we have enough brave people to keep it from plunging it into chaos.

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