A Conversation for Courage
Gibbous Hindsight Started conversation Jan 19, 2000
In my humble opinion, no discussion of courage is complete without contemplation on Mark Twain's succinct evaluation which seems true even a hundred years later. "It is curious -- curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare." I would not presume to take away the honor we bestowe on a fireman who risks his life to save our children. But should we not likewise encourage and honor those who risk their reputations, jobs, and very livelihoods for standing up for what is right? They will live with their decisions, and in making the right one should reap more than a clear conscience and not fear being ostracized by an indifferent public.
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Gibbous Hindsight Posted Jan 25, 2000
While I agree with Mark Twain's sentiments, second thoughts made me realize that it may be difficult to accept observations on courage from someone who apparently wasn't even courageous enough to use his given name (Samuel Clemens). Then I also realized, I too am using a nickname. Dizzying. Oh well. Here are a few other notes on courage from two who really knew who they were:
"So, brave knights, if you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further, for death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth."
- There are some who call him Tim.
"What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage!"
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Gruntled Posted Feb 5, 2000
Ok, I'm new so I'll quote someone too. Wasn't it Johnson (or Boswell quoting him) who said "all men regret not having been a soldier" ? Military service has always been viewed as a basic test of bravery, especially since World War 2. Obviously many conscientious objectors had their courage tested too, often more so than those who unquestioningly reported- I read a statistic once that said only 1 in 8 of those in the military during WW2 actually saw combat- but where I came from, serving was seen as sine qua non of "cajones".
Once in combat, I wonder where the line between selfless courage, happenstance, and undiluted idiocy is drawn. Risking one's life to the benefit of others is one thing, but taking responsibility for alot of others is another. The courage of a commander who surrenders to save his men is much less appreciated than the "til the last man" stereotype.
Finally, I'm not sure courage is concious. 36 years ago this week, Feb 1. 1964, I fell in an icy lake trying to lend a hand to other idiots. When I woke up two kids were dead and I was lucky to not be. For this stupidity I was given a medal from Carnegie Heros or some such. BUT.... let me tell you straight up...at no time prior to my swim did I think I was in any danger. At no time while still conscious in the water did I feel I had done anything other than be stupid and reckless. At no time did selflessness or nobility occur. My first thought in the hospital was, Did that nurse see me naked? What's more, when I look at frozen lakes today, I look away-- fearful I might see someone fall in. Is that cowardice?
"Am I babbling?" I think Brooks Robinson said that.
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