The True Definition of Courage
As we grow up, we tend to define courage hand in hand with action heroes. Courage seems like a concept left for firemen, policemen who chase after robbers and once in a while the average man who risks his life for another. Courage is indeed encompassed in all this. Courage is the utmost sacrifice for an individual one whom you do not even know. In the past, I too held courage in the same level as fancy luxury cars or even yachts. They are designed and owned by a select few. To me, courage was something that required newsworthy attention and was therefore an acronym whose meaning was known to a select few. There are many who agree with me, that courage is beyond the normal things of day to day life.
However, today I can say I am more learned, knowledgeable and perhaps more experienced in the matter of courage. Courage I have come to find is not just dashing forward sword in hand into a battle with several other sword caring men. Courage can be found in the pursuit of dreams and in small sacrifices for the benefit of others. In fact based on this definition, we have all shown courage in the face of various challenges in our lives. Courage exists in each and every human being, however, because of our misconceived notions on what courage is, we tend to forget that we posses this trait. According to Ambrose (1996), Faced with major challenges, fear creeps in and dashes out courage. It is to be noted that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the ability to ignore crippling fear, fight it and in the end rise above it. Surprisingly, courage is one of the easiest traits to find and grow.
I draw this definition from my recent stint volunteering at a children’s hospital. The hospital is full of despair, you little gems fighting desperately for a chance to live. Loss of the little ones is common, and after one week I was teetering on the border of depression. Yet, despite these dismal circumstances nurses come in everyday, bond with the patients and take very good care of them. They read them stories; sing to them when they are in pain even when they know that fighting for them is only a matter of time. They cry over the loss of a loved child in the closet, and then smile to the next little one promising them that it will get better. Day after day they report to work with a smile, even when faced with the suffering of the most innocent. They try harder on a daily basis to give their patients even a little joy and comfort for the time they are with them.
In my pursuit to find myself, I have often questioned the paths I have chosen and allowed crippling fear to encroach. Courage is however, not about my dreams, valid as they maybe, it is about the dreams of another one who may be unable to work towards and achieve said dream. An eagle when put in cage remains just a bird, but when allowed to soar it is the most magnificent creature on earth. Everyone has a shred of courage, we only need to open the door and allow such courage to manifest. Courage is the gem needed to make this world a better place for everyone.
Ambrose, Stephen E. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. , 1996. Print.