What does the word courage mean to you? Courage means a personal character based on integrity. It is perceived one of the core virtues of humanity. We talk here about moral courage not physical courage. It is said that one cannot become courageous without walking through vulnerability or perhaps better expressed by John Wayne: “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway”. Often courage will require personal sacrifices. How many people are willing to sacrifice anything – this being reputation, career, income or personal relation – to do the right thing, i.e. show moral courage. Truth is that many like to express courage in theory while hesitate exercising acts of courage in practice. Why is it so?
Mark Twain once said: “It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare”. In other words, he reflected upon the fact that people often lack courage to stand up for what is right and for what they believe in, while it seem easier for many to apply physical “courage” without moral standing. Many are gifted in theory speaking against injustice; though lack the moral courage to act in practise. It is not the same to talk in a way that indicates moral courage – moral courage is shown in actual action. Moral courage requires standing up and speaks according to one’s ethics when moral principles are threatened.
Many sayings about courage will conclude that having courage is not absence of fear, but acting despite that fear. Fear in itself says nothing about who is courageous. The Greek philosopher Aristotle expressed it this way; “The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best out of circumstance.” Exactly our point: being courageous is not a win-win situation. A person can experience huge personal loss and risk own personal and economic safety, following an act of courage. Perhaps this explains lack of moral courage in modern day’s society?
Being courageous can be referred to as having moral integrity. Some say we too large extent have separated moral codes from our daily lives. “Hitting the button” can cost and as mentioned above, many are not prepared to sacrifice a safe living standard even in cases when they know they should speak up. The consequences of showing moral courage could harm ones mental well-being. It can damage ones reputation, self-esteem and in our days, often destroy career opportunities. It all comes back to personality. For some it is easier to suppress own moral and that little voice telling them they are doing the wrong thing, while others cannot act otherwise – they perceive courage a moral duty.