Since I first started reading English, the dictionary has been a very dear friend. I’ve realised that even the dictionary cannot always be trusted. Not in the sense that it’s incorrect but because there are some words whose meanings are felt, not read.
Over the years, the meaning of the word ‘courage’ has been somewhat diminished. It’s not the importance that has changed but rather it’s the emphasis that changed. Ask someone what courage is and the odds are they will give an answer that has mostly to do with physical courage and things like “the ability to withstand pain”. While that may not be entirely incorrect, we are missing out on a large part of it. It’s like the classic example of yin and yang. Focus too much on one and the balance is disrupted.
Courage, in a broader sense, also means the ability to speak up against injustice or to do the right thing when all you’re surrounded by is negativity. It is the ability to gather up one’s cojones and stick to the truth in the darkest of times. This is the part that we tend to ignore.
Quite often, kindness is treated as a weakness. In short, people treat kindness as an opposition to the “path to being courageous”. To quote US president Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fibre of free people.” What some people try to find in the gyms across the world can be found all over the streets they drive on. Millions of people who have been the victim of social injustice are in need of help and true courage would be standing up for these people and at least doing the least one can.
I am not condoning anyone who works towards being fit but we might have reached a point where our physical well-being is the only thing we care about while our mental well beings are put at a hold. The spirit of a man is more important than mere physical strength; and the moral fibre of a nation than its wealth.
I often find it hard to talk of moral fibre when things like corruption, riots and communalism are going on all around us. Courage is a dying quality and while we try to bully our way into it, we’ll have dug our own graves.
Sketch By: Kislaya Sinha