“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality. ” ― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
We live in a world full of fear. Many advertisers depend on a sort of paranoia in each of us and use it to peddle their products. All around us people seek security and freedom from fear. And yet, here in America, we live in relative safety when compared with those who live in other cultures. The following material seeks to lead you through a consideration of courage. Courage is necessary in life, no matter who we may be or where we may live. It was Maya Angelou who said, “Courage: the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” Until our mettle is tested, we are not sure of our character.
We wake up to daily news of the unrest and difficulties in the Middle East. Yet often the news seems distant and unreal to us. Recently, however, the news put a face to some of the courage at work in that part of our world. The story of Malala Yousafzai became international news through her blogs on the BBC. Writing under a pseudonym, this brave young teen in Pakistan shared with the world the effects in her own town and school as the Taliban moved in to take over her city.
Early in 2009, at the age of 11, Malala began writing short blog posts detailing specifics about her life in the midst of Taliban rule, especially during the time when the Taliban forbid all girls from attending school. Later that year a documentary was filmed by the New York Times that led to many interviews both in print and on the TV. She has since been nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu. On October 9, 2012, she was shot in the head and neck by Taliban who had been seeking her death. The initial news article from the New York Times is linked below. She was brought to London for medical treatment and was recently released from the hospital, heading back home to live with her family. You can read the New York Times article about her release in the links below as well. A group of 50 Islamic clerics in Pakistan have issued a fatwā against those who tried to kill her. The Taliban has reiterated its intent to kill Yousafzai and her father, Ziauddin.
As you read these materials, it is hoped you will grow in your own courage to do what ought to be done, not just what is convenient. Most of us are far too concerned about “fitting in” or not rocking any boats. We know we could do more in life but fear some risk or danger and thus are kept from it. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” (Ambrose Redmoon). Finding that “something else” and doing it no matter what can be a tremendous agent for change in our world. As Plato put it so many years ago, “Courage is knowing what not to fear.”