Le coeur est au coeur du courage

9 years ago

‘The test of courage comes when we are in the
minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.’
--Ralph W Sockman

Main Entry:

cour·age Listen to the pronunciation of courage


\ˈkər-ij, ˈkə-rij\




Middle English corage, from Anglo-French curage, from quer, coer heart, from Latin cor — more at heart


14th century

: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

say I’m courageous. When I explain the story of why I’m here, they are
quite in awe. They say that what I’ve done takes a lot of strength. But
I wouldn’t say I’m strong or courageous at all; in fact, just the
opposite. I’ve been pulled along by the tides of love, swept under the
swells of culture, and just barely been able to maintain my head above
water. Maybe I did dive in, and maybe that did require an ounce of
daring, but the rest has not been up to me. How can I claim any award
for bravery for merely getting by, facing my days not with eagerness
but mostly with apprehension?

Though this is not to say that I’m not a fighter. No, this
description aptly fits me and, while I’m not exactly proud to admit it,
I can at least own the fact. I argue constantly, tiresomely. When I
want to, I can make something out of nothing, and make it go on
endlessly. This usually means that I always fight over everything. So
then, maybe I do have some courage stored up inside, if nothing but the
courage to keep on fighting. But it’s so exhausting and unsatistfying.
Wouldn’t it be multitudes more fulfilling to accept things gracefully,
to compromise and to be compassionate? That’s what I keep reading, but
the sneaky thing about motivational, spiritual books is that unless
you’ve experienced something for yourself, you cannot claim it as your
truth; and aspiring to other, ‘higher’ truths is disheartening and

Courage: if the root of the word is ‘heart’, then why does the definition only comprise
mental or moral strength? Surely it should include some homage to its
origins, a simple embracing of the emotional aspect of power that in
fact overshadows the other components in potency. For it is the
emotions that we feel throughout our bodies, and which essentially
render them capable or incapable of operating in the capacities we so
choose. Our emotions are indeed our bodies’ response to our thoughts,
but they are the more tangible, more real. They keep us rooted to our
bodies, to the earth, instead of up in our heads all the time. So this
is why the root of courage is heart: because one must be rooted in
one’s heart to have it.

Now, this sounds like a definition of courage that may pertain to
me, that I can claim as my own. For if there’s one thing I can say with
conviction, it is that I live by my heart, by my emotions and
intuition. I trust, sometimes blindly. I leap, sometimes with faith,
sometimes without. I dive, and often am in over my head.

implies firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme
difficulty”. Perhaps, but if my heart isn’t in on the deal, no amount
of coaxing will convince mind and will to follow. She is the ruling

This definition is slightly
different: “The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to
face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence,
and resolution; bravery.” I would certainly not say that such a triad
applies to me, because it implies steadiness, firmness, calm and
composure. If I am at all courageous, it is despite my lack of those
qualities when they are needed most. I am plagued by moments of doubt,
not only in myself, but in my choices. So I review them critically, I
pick at my weak spots--I even fight with myself so that I can somehow
win and be right in my own eyes, rather than feel that I’ve done it all

“Courage overrides self-doubt, but does not end it.” --Mason Cooley

Thus, maybe courage is itself
borne through self-doubt—of staring it down, of being victorious in the
face-off. Until the next showdown.

Walter Murdoch (1874–1970). The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse. 1918.   144. Courage   By Louis Lavater  

  TWO kinds of courage are there in the creed Of simple men. The one is courage born, Not made; enfibred in the heart, not worn Above it; strong in every hour of need. The other courage is of doubtful breed, 5 For cowardice itself caught on the thorn Of sharp despair may lead a hope forlorn And trick the world with one swift dazzling deed.   But this that holds me in perpetual lease, How can I give so motley thing a name? 10 That wins no battles nor will sue for peace, That dares, that cries ‘Alas, my strength is gone!’ That droops, revives, that falters and fights on— Is this thing courage or but fear of shame?

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”

--C S Lewis

is essentially saying that courage is at the heart of what it means to
be human. Courage is the basis of virtue, and virtue is human essence
(since vir means man.). So maybe I do have courage after all,
and being reminded of it helps me to recognize it in myself, to give
myself some credit for getting through my struggles. Yet I actually
have nothing to do with it, since it belongs to us all. In fact, if I
had any say in it, I’d argue with it.

Maybe no one tells us that we’re courageous, and we ignore it in
ourselves in favor of our other demeaning stories. But actually, we all
manage to live in this crazy, uncontrollable world, and this mere act
of survival takes all the courage in the world.

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