Saturday, 2 May 2015

Courage and It's forms

Courage goes hand in hand with fear. When there's no fear, there's no need for courage. Do you feel courageous when you walk across a two feet wide plank laid on your floor or when you walk across when it's laid hundred feet above the ground? It's the fear of falling and its consequences that brings forth the need for courage.

A lack of imagination may lead a person to do certain things that are considered courageous merely because (s)he is unable to contemplate the consequences. Such an appearance of courage is what I like to think of as bravado.
In the true sense, one talks of courage only when what is being done is necessary and when the concerned person fears the consequences but still forges ahead. To risk consequences for no serious reason is also merely bravado.

The most commonly acknowledged type of courage is the Physical courage. The word 'courage', in general setting, almost exclusively describes physical courage. It's the one that's required when you do something that has the potential to cause you physical inconvenience, pain, disability or death.

Back in their days, philosophers talked of three kinds of virtues or attributes - Satva (Goodness), Rajas (Passion) and Tamas (Destruction / Darkness).

Let's say you see a person being beaten up by a thug.
- A rajasik person would dash towards the thug and be embroiled in a fight. The possibility of getting hurt won't cross his mind.
- A tamasik person would prefer not to risk the consequences, and thus would go on his way.
- A satvik person would try to save the victim but will not indulge in a fight with the thug despite the fact that his non-violence may cause him to get hurt.

There's another kind of courage which I choose to call Social courage. It's the kind required to stick by what you believe in regardless of the fact that it may cause you to lose respect of the people the opinion of whom you care about or the others.
Supposing you see a group of your friends bullying a young boy - Would you join them or stop them?
The fear of society's disapproval is far stronger than physical fear.
What armies call esprit de corps is a way of ensuring that soldiers would rather face death than the contempt of their peers. In fact lots of noble deeds and atrocities alike have been done out of fear of social disapproval. Social courage is therefore rarer than Physical courage.

Is it all there is to courage then?
Physical and Social courage anchor behaviour.

It is what I call Moral courage that's required to anchor your feelings.
To be able to love when love has been repaid with disdain; to be able to trust when trust has been repaid with betrayal and to be able to be compassionate when compassion has been repaid with contempt requires a far higher and rarer order of courage.
I don't mean that you should love the person who treated you with disdain. What I meant was you need courage to still be able to meet other people in life without letting your past experiences with them embitter you.

Situations conveniently don't fall into categories. A physical confrontation will have social consequences. A social confrontation may probably have physical consequences.
People don't slot themselves conveniently into boxes either. A person with great physical courage may have very little social courage and someone with no physical courage may exhibit great social courage.

A great deal of premium is placed on courage. Rightfully so, since without courage none of the other things in life would really matter.

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