“Coming out in the country,” the radio program was called. It profiled the unfortunate position of young gay people ‘coming out’ [of the closet] in small country towns around Australia and the stigma that follows them: courage. An alcoholic walks for the first time into the rooms of AA and into the hope of recovery: courage. Or what about the person who accepts a partner back who’s cheated on them—the forgiveness of grace: courage. Finally, the cancer patient: courage.
And to our own perhaps less weighty but nevertheless frequent personal struggles, which break through or persist each day, also a good helping of courage is afforded—we know it’s the way through life.
“Courage is the first of the human qualities because it is a quality which guarantees all the others.” –Winston Churchill.
Could it be that of all virtue—those aspects of merit and traits of the saints—depends upon courage first? Does courage, in fact, inform all our good acts of patience, kindness and compassion?
“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential [for it]. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” –Maya Angelou.
Could it also be that courage goes before the truest sense of virtue and makes it sustainable, carrying it forth so we’re then hence characterised by kindness, mercy, honesty etc?
Think about it. Courage is the basis of all intention toward, and good acts of, virtue.
So, there we have it. Courage is the very first virtue—one that’s seemingly all that’s required. Could that be true? But there are facets to courage, life faith, like confidence, indeed, the presence of fear also—it melds with commonplace virtue.
Courage fuels the person to do what seems right, whether they’re well-informed or not. It brings them to the point of action. Resolve meets the road and takes the glorious shape of committed action. Perhaps second only comes wisdom; to be correctly informed and to act as such. Whatever you’re facing: courage and wisdom... both in decent portions.
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.