I believe that the opposite of courage is not fear or cowardice, but apathy. We might think that the opposite of courage is fear, as though courage is a state of fearlessness, but courage exists in the presence of fear and courageous acts are conducted in spite of fear.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it” Nelson Mandela
Courage is always a decision to overcome a tempting, easier option, in order to do what we believe is right. The easier option is usually to do nothing.
We can become very good at doing nothing. My use of the term nothing, means nothing positive, nothing that leads to growth of oneself or others. It means not learning, not looking after your health, not looking for ways to help family, friends or community, not being creative, not taking a stand, not developing and not using our talents to make a positive difference.
It means choosing comfort, security and ease instead. When we choose comfort, security and ease we are effectively choosing nothing, since we are making no contribution to life, neither our own nor the world around us.
The more nothing we do the better we get at it.
We choose comfort eating and TV watching instead of activity, healthy choices and learning. We choose to look after our own comfort instead of making the effort to help others. We choose to keep quiet when we see something is not right. We choose what is easy and after a while we are so used to doing nothing we don’t bother to consider any other option. We simply can’t be bothered. We say yes to nothing and no to life.
Courage requires us to reverse this habit, to push ourselves out of apathy, to make an effort, to say yes, to try, to contribute and to live.
“This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure”. Winston Churchill
Paradoxically, in some instances it is the courageous thing to do nothing. Occasionally, to help the growth of someone we care about, we have to hold back when our impulse is to rescue them.