Courage: The Golden Mean Between Cowardice and Recklessness

The first of Aristotle’s moral virtues.

Photo by Jeff Rodgers on Unsplash

When overwhelmed by fear, we’re tempted to yield to cowardice.

When we fail to give due respect to our fears, we can take unnecessary risks and become reckless.

Fear wears many faces. Have you ever experienced any of these?
Fear that I will die young
Fear of failure
Fear of rejection
Fear that we are faking it.
Fear of Death
Fear of poverty
Fear of failing to live up to expectations (internal tyranny of mother or father)
Fear of being alone
Fear of trying something new

When people act in strange ways, in ways that don’t make sense, often there is an irrational fear behind their behaviors. Here’s one example, a verse from the Proverbs:

The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!” (Prov. 22:13, New Living Translation) The person making the claim (“There’s a lion in the streets.”) uses the lion as a pretext to justify his laziness. In other words, what people say often conceals, rather than reveals, what is really going on inside.

I’d be curious to know how often we believe our own self-lies, out of fear of the truth.

Many of us have become so shackled by a fear of failure that we fold our hands and do nothing. Whether it be pursuing a career or a special relationship, the fear becomes more real than the possibility of success. The solution is to take action, which requires courage.

For most of us, we’re not living in life or death hand-to-hand combat, so we don’t recognize the enemy we’re up against: passivity. It takes an effort to wake up, especially if our sleep has been deep and prolonged.

It requires courage to step up and become a man or woman of action. Sometimes the mountain we want to climb is so high we get overwhelmed thinking about it. The reality is, as the proverbial saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Yes, it’s uphill all the way, but this is how summits are reached.

Don’t sit back passively and let life just push you around. Step up and make a difference.

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