Courage is the act of doing something whilst knowingly putting yourself in danger of some sort or other. The higher the chances of danger and the higher the risks, then the more courage it requires. This is especially true if there is no direct payoff for the person being courageous. Here I show a few examples featuring possible courage, featuring real courage and featuring cowardice.
Je Suis Charlie were using their right to free expression
The comical writing company “Je Suis Charlie” were not heroes or courageous, they were simply expressing their right to free expression. Expressing yourself in a free country SHOULDN’T be an act of courageousness.
In hindsight, the people at Je Suis Charlie were courageous since they were killed for writing whatever they please. But, maybe they trusted their own government to protect them against being killed by people with contradictory views.
Mark Zuckerberg is a coward
This is the guy that owns and runs Facebook. He issued a strongly worded statement against the people that killed staff members at Je Suis Charlie, and yet he is now censoring images of the prophet Muhammad. This means that Facebook is either run by cowards, or it has become a Muslim social media network because only Muslims are not allowed to show/create images depicting Muhammad.
A real example of courage
Being courageous means doing something without a direct benefit to yourself, and doing it for other people, such as doing it for an ideal. There is an Iranian political cartoonist called Mahmoud Shokraye. In 2012 he was sentenced to 25 lashes because he drew a comical cartoon. It showed the conservative Member of Parliament called Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani in a soccer shirt. He was making fun of the fact the politician keeps switching sides like a soccer player.
Mahmoud Shokraye knew that creating the cartoon may land him in jail and maybe even execution and yet he still did it because he wanted to express himself. People in other countries take free expression for granted, and yet here is a man that was whipped 25 times because he made gentle fun of a politician. It is good to see that courage exists in this way, especially when people such as Mark Zuckerberg are helping to remove the rights of free expression from people that have it already.
Courage is something a person does that poses a risk or holds some sort of danger. The more danger that is involved, then the higher the level of courage needed. This is especially true if a person receives no direct benefit from being courageous. For example, the people fighting in World War II, on all sides, were being courageous because they were doing something they thought was right for the people of their own country. There were people that fought in the war that were courageous because they were fighting to help or protect the people in their own country. There was no direct benefit to those that fought, but they still did their job for the people of their own country, which means they were courageous in their actions.
Some things are easy to understand and describe. A rose is a rose and a nose is a nose after all. However, other concepts are more difficult to interpret. Trust is one of these concepts. Understanding is another. Then again, bravery might be the most difficult word to comprehend. What makes one person brave and another not? How can the word bravery be defined?
Many people hold a common misconception about bravery. They believe that bravery is the same as being without fear. But being brave and being fearless are two different things. Many people skydive, do public speaking, ask questions, or enter relationships not because they are unafraid but because they are willing to overcome this fear. Or perhaps they are willing to go ahead despite the butterflies in their stomachs. To some, this is a foreign concept that prevents them from trying new things. However, others understand that “bravery is being terrified and doing it anyway,” as Laurell K Hamilton said. Being brave is ignoring fear for a moment and carrying on.
Bravery is also closely tied to selflessness. The book Divergent by Veronica Roth describes bravery as being the ultimate selfless action. The lead character states that “selflessness and bravery aren’t all that different.” Bravery is when you put yourself in danger to help or protect another. Mothers are brave when they give up sleep in order to comfort their child. Teachers are brave when they give up their own time to improve their teaching. Firemen are brave when they rush into a building to save someone trapped inside. Bravery is taking a risk to give something of yourself in order to make life easier for another.
Above all, bravery is instinctual. It is something that cannot really be thought through. Oftentimes, bravery is a spur-of-the-moment emotion that leaves little time to think your actions and consequences through. Brave people don’t hesitate. They can leap forward when others are still working their way through a problem. In order to be brave, one should not overthink situations. It’s an instinctive action that just happens. If you talk to someone that has just performed a brave act and ask them why they leapt into danger, their response is often “… I don’t know. I just did it.”
If there weren’t any brave people, the world would be a much different place. Perhaps it would be a sadder one, lacking in policemen and nurses. Bravery is essential for humans to work together and for the world to continue to change and grow.