There is an ancient proverb about fear and courage being brothers and it happens to be both apt and accurate. Today, we are discussing courage; the fact is that I even needed a bit of courage to come up here and give the speech in the first place. So what is courage? Courage essentially is being brave in the face of fear, and even though the fear may be unreasonable, the act of overcoming this fear itself constitutes courage.
Our past is scattered with noble examples of famous characters who showed courage under the most challenging of circumstances. Let us explore a few of these heart lifting examples.
Tenzing Norgay displayed great courage when he accompanied Sir Hilary above Mount Everest. They are recorded as being the first climbers to reach the peak of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. One slip and death was all around them. The brave expedition reached the main summit of Kedarnath at 22,769 feet (6,940 m) in the western Garhwal Himalaya. We know he was fearful at times. He wrote:
“It is only a row of snowy humps, one beyond the other, one higher than the other. But we are still afraid of the cornices and, instead of following the ridge all the way, cut over to the left, where there is now a long snow slope above the precipice.”
When World War II ended in 1945, six million European Jews had been killed in what we call, “the Holocaust”. More than one million of the victims were children. German Nazis, driven by racism believed Jews were, ‘vermin’.
Tens of thousands of Jewish children survived the horrific persecution, because many were hidden by local populations. The childrens’ identities were faked, and they were often physically concealed from the outside world. The youngsters faced constant fear, dilemmas, and danger and to needed to summon great courage every day to live. A secret whisper among neighbors and they could have been killed by the Nazis.
The point is that we all face difficult challenges in the course of our lives, some larger than others and we all need to summon courage to help us navigate the issue. Courage is not just about overcoming difficulties in your life but it is also about being strong when there seems to be no solution or when there is a risk to our health, loved ones or income.
According to many dictionaries the definition of courage is,
“The ability to do something that frightens one.”
Sometimes we are forced to show courage. Good examples are if we face a life changing operation. Or if we have to escape a burning building. Other forms of courage can be not life threatening; for example if we are about to invest most of our money into a business or we face very important exams. Schoolyard bullies may be bullying a friend and it needs courage to report them.
Many times we need to search ourselves to find that little nugget of courage that pushes us to take the right decision. It is this courage and unexpected actions that have helped change the course of our history over and over again for without this courage, and the fact that many men died for this courage, our world would not be the way it is today. Think of the millions who have died on battle fields across the globe over the centuries.
It is important that we install a sense of courage or at least educate our little ones on the same. This is not to imply that our children should be exposed to various challenging circumstances early on but rather that the children should be exposed to various stories that showcase courage under the most adverse of circumstances. You can either read the books that do this, show them movies that extol the same and even get them fables of some of the famous legendary figures well known for courage. The point is that the more you impress on your kids about the value and need for courage, the more likely it is that they would adapt to life’s challenges head-on.
Courage is an essential component of our everyday life in varying degrees; it is something that we must all cherish and hold in high esteem. After all, without this courage, and the brave acts as shown by the NY firemen, it would not have been possible to rescue so many during the 9/11 attack. Let us be examples to our peers and loved ones whatever challenges we face. I hope you enjoyed this short speech on courage. Remember that fear and courage often go hand in hand, and it is the act of overcoming this fear that defines us.