June 6, 1944 Normandy, France. There was a momentous display of courage, one that 75 years later we still look at it in awe. We still owe so much to those young men who sacrificed “their today for our tomorrow”. Make no mistake, there was courage out the wazoo on that beach. Mostly men under the age of 20 storming a beach that was heavily fortified by a very strong military presence. If you believe that they weren’t scared, you are disillusioned or stupid. They didn’t act on lack of fear, they acted despite the fear. They acted because their duty that day was more important than the fear they had. I don’t know anyone who would argue that those men were courageous. This is an example of an extreme display of courage, but it is a display of a specific type of courage that most people will never have to face – in part because of those thousands of young warriors did what they did.
That specific example is an important consideration to make when thinking about courage. There other types of courage, types that we face every day. Most of these incidents do not have the same level of physical danger, or any real physical danger in most cases. This should not, and does not lessen the act of courage, nor should it be compared or judged against the type of courage displayed on that day in 1944. The type of courage I will be discussing is the courage it takes to stand up, speak up, to be who you are called to be. The courage to do the right thing.
This quote resonated with me the first time I read it. So astute, so simple, so true.
The first virtue on most lists you will find of the Nine Noble Virtues (9NV) is courage. This is intentional, I believe. Courage is the foundation of all the other virtues. Courage is critical to living a Principle Centered Life. Without courage to act on the correct behaviors there is no action. Living a Principle Centered Life requires action…you can’t just fake it until you make it – you have to do it; you have to live it. You must own it.
Going against the status quo is not the easy path. It order to accomplish something you have never accomplished you have to do things you have never done. This take on the famous quote by an unknown speaker/author demonstrates a truth that is timeless. Courage is the principle that is the natural law that governs the actions required to step out and do what you have not done before. Most people do not accomplish great things, most don’t even accomplish minor things of importance. This is because people do not have the courage to truly want something different, they are content in with their bread and circuses.
For many people it is easy to make the connection with courage and going against the grain when we are talking about things like starting a business or running a marathon. Again, make no mistake those acts are displays of courage. Do you consider it an act of courage to face the unaccepting world when you are born with a difference from the majority? Is it courageous when the young black woman works to become a fortune 500 CEO? Absolutely! How about when the Autistic boy wants to become a doctor (yes, I stole that one!) Of course, that is courage.
So, when the guy at work introduces you to his husband understand that is courage. Wait, what? Why is it an act of courage for him to introduce you to his husband? When I introduce you to my wife, I would not consider that an act of courage. I have no fear of rejection. This is a normal thing for most people. We need to get to a place where those two men are as accepted as me and my wife. When you find out that Samantha used to be Samuel, that should not be a source of shock, it should be as acceptable as when Judy bought new boobies because she wanted to be a D cup, or when Frank got a nose job. All these examples are people choosing to match their bodies to their identity. Please do not think I am marginalizing any of these choices. I understand the decision to have sexual reassignment surgery is not the same thing as getting bigger tits. I am only bringing it down to the root for a common denominator.
You know what is also courageous? Accepting people for who they are without judging them based on your own paradigm. Remember that golden rule we all learned as children? Well, surprise, it is outdated. The platinum rule is the new, better rule. Instead of treating people how you would want to be treated try treating them how they want to be treated. This requires empathy and understanding other people…this means you have to get to know them. Which, you guessed it, requires courage.
As an end note I want to make it perfectly clear. There are people who should not be accepted. Toxic, harmful, dangerous people are who I am talking about. You should never accept toxicity from anyone (this includes yourself). Those who physically or mentally are dangerous to you should not be accepted, ever. Racist, bigots, and those who refuse to accept the differences in others are also not welcomed. It doesn’t need said but I will anyway; pedophiles are not acceptable. I understand that pedophilia may be their true sexual orientation, but consent requires a person mature/capable enough of understanding what they are consenting to. We must protect those who not capable of defending themselves.
From the words of the Allfather: When evil comes to you do not keep quiet or let your enemy find peace. (Havamal 126 – TAC study version)