What Courage REALLY Means

What Courage REALLY Means

What does your courage really mean in the grand scheme of things?


People often talk about courage. The problem is, most people don't see themselves as being very courageous. Think back in your life. When was the last time you were truly courageous? Maybe it was in middle school when you finally had enough of that nasty bully. Maybe it was in high school when you fought through an injury, got back on the field, and scored the winning goal. Maybe it was in college when you finally took the chance and asked her out.

What does courage really mean? What does it mean to be courageous? The truth is that courage is truly in the eyes of the beholder. Actions that look like courage to some may seem mundane to others. Decisions that took you months to make may look like weakness to some. To me, having courage is the act of stepping into the unknown.

This is intentionally vague. Confronting that middle school bully was definitely a step into the unknown. Walking back out on that field, not knowing how long you could last, feeling like there was tiger biting your knee, was definitely a step into the unknown. Finally asking our your crush is absolutely a step into the unknown (well maybe you had some idea).

The problem is that these days, courage comes neatly packaged in quotes or is displayed proudly on the walls of your office building on big posters. People tend to say that someone has courage if they face their fears, go out on a limb, or start a new business. Sure, these things absolutely involve courage, but there are so many times in our lives when we use courage and don't even know it.

There is so much more depth in the discussion about courage than we tend to realize. I would argue that there are significantly more times in our lives when we are being courageous. Our decisions or actions need not be life altering to be courageous. For some, the act of getting out of bed in the morning is courageous. If you are struggling with depression or social anxiety, the idea of getting out of bed and facing the world is a truly scary one. Having courage involves making the decision to get up, day in and day out. Congrats to you, by the way.

Courage can also be viewed on a grand scale. History is full of examples of this. Think about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Can you imagine the courage of those men? They would be in the unexplored wilderness for months with no effective communication tools, few supplies, and not even an idea of what a GPS was. The volumes of courage this would have taken is of a scope I can only wish to attain someday.

In my mind, Rosa Parks stands out as the Queen in the courage arena. I cannot fathom the amount of courage it must have taken to say that one simple word. No. That one simple word that would kickstart a fight for equality which still, more than 50 years later, as STILL not been won.

The problem with using examples from history here is that we don't have as much to pull from in the present. In my mind, John McCain was a great example. Pressured by his entire party, he defied many of his colleagues and the president when he cast his vote against the repeal of the ACA. Truly, McCain is on that upper echelon when it comes to courage.

An issue I see increasingly is that people somehow seem to be losing their courage. People are afraid to go after their dreams because they may crash and burn. People are afraid to speak out against injustice because they fear retribution from the other side. People seek to build walls because they fear others, regardless of their struggle, strife, or history. Truly, this must change.

We as a society need to stop holding our tongue when we see injustice or inequality.

The MeToo Movement is a great example of this. Thousands of women have spoken out against politicians, businessmen, and anyone else who has wronged them because a small group chose to face their fears and speak. This is the example we should follow. This is what courage looks like.

Courage starts small. Courage grows. As with fire, so with Courage. One person can start a movement which betters the lives of thousands, even millions. A small group that makes the hard choice can better the lives of those not courageous enough to make it themselves. Stand up to that bully. Get back on the field. Ask the question. Those around you will appreciate it.

I ask you: What can courage NOT do?

Popular Right Now

This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Sociolinguistics Series: Part 50

Language is a powerful tool.


It's part 50--halfway to 100! I'm so glad to still be here writing! In this section, we will talk about Dr. Shikaki's findings on how Palestinians view the state of Israel.

25 years ago, 85% of Palestinians supported a two-state solution. 10 years ago, this number decreased to 70%. Dr. Shikaki believes this was due to an increase in the prominence of Islamism in Palestinian society during the second intifada; Islamists were opposed to the two-state solution. In the most recent survey, the December 2018 one, only 43% of Palestinians supported the two state solution.

In 2000, American President Bill Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PA Chairman Yasser Arafat at the Camp David Summit to come up with a solution to the conflict. It ended without an agreement, but in December of 2000, Clinton once again proposed a resolution: the Clinton Parameters.

The content of the Parameters basically allowed Israel to annex settlements while Palestine to take 94-96% of the West Bank, as well as Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. There were other guidelines regarding territory, refugees, security, and the end of the conflict. Essentially, the West Bank would have been split up by Israeli roads and settlements--which is kind of the reality today.

Both the Israeli government and Arafat accepted the terms with reservations, and Arafat wrote to Clinton a letter asking for clarifications on the terms. Clinton and Dennis Ross, an envoy of the Parameters, publicized that Arafat had refused to accept the terms; they painted Palestinians in a negative light, saying that Israel wanted to accept the peace negotiations but Palestine did not.

American Lawyer Robert Malley was at the Camp David Summit and oversaw parts of the Clinton Parameters. In 2001, he said that three myths had come out of the failure of both negotiations, and that these three myths were dangerous to any future peace processes if people kept believing in them.

These myths are as follows: "Camp David was an ideal test of Mr. Arafat's intentions," "Israel's offer met most if not all of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations," and "The Palestinians made no concession of their own."

He said that these three statements were not true but very heavily publicized by America and Israel after the negotiations failed; rather, there is more nuance to each of these issues, and America and Israel have just as much responsibility in the failure of the Summit and Parameters as Palestine did. Malley wrote, "If peace is to be achieved, the parties cannot afford to tolerate the growing acceptance of these myths as reality."

Anyway, what does this have to do with Dr. Shikaki? He polled Palestinians not only on the their attitudes to the two-state solution, but the Clinton Parameters as well. 25 years ago, there was 60% support for the Clinton Parameters by Palestinians, but the June 2018 poll showed that the number had gone down to 37%.

The last ten years shows a significant decrease in public support for both the two-state solution and the Clinton Parameters, and it could be a result of disagreeing with specific parts of the proposals (such as how the Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock or Jerusalem is delegated).

I did some further digging when I got home, and I found this data from the UN Division for Palestinian Rights website:

"A 25 December [2000] published poll found that 48% of the 501 Israelis questioned were opposed to the proposals; 57% would object to Palestinian control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound; 72% were against even a limited return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. A 29 December published poll found that 56% of the Israelis would oppose a peace agreement reached on the basis of the Parameters."

This shows that though public media--especially Western media--may have painted the Palestinian government as the villain (and Israel and America as the "victims"), the proposals accepted by either government had varied support among its people.

The Israeli civilian population did not want to accept the Clinton Parameters because of the way certain things would be resolved; their reservations lie with the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque because the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in the world for Jews, would have been given to Palestine, while Jews would have control of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount (which is the status quo).

In addition, there was a section in the Clinton Parameters that dealt with the right of return for Palestinians, where there would be a certain number of Palestinian refugees who settled in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while other Palestinians either would become citizens of their host countries, move to a third-party country, or settle back into the land that is Israel Proper (with permission from the Israeli government, of course); many Israelis did not support this.

That was the public opinion years ago. Today, there is even less support for these proposals. Dr. Shikaki outlined three issues as reasons for a decrease in support of compromise, which we will cover in the next section. Stay tuned!

Related Content

Facebook Comments