[personal profile] asthefiretree
“Don’t panic.”- The Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

There was, a few years ago, an urban legend circulating amongst college students of a philosophy class at an unnamed college, with a particularly eccentric professor. For the final exam if this class, he handed to each student a single sheet upon which was printed a single question: What is courage?

Legend has it that one student answered this question with an equally brief answer, two words simply stating: "This is." Legend also says that this student received the only A.

Such a stunt would certainly require a good deal of courage, however this student did not define courage, he demonstrated an example. Courage is taking action despite one's fears, anxieties or inhibitions. Greek mythology is littered with heroes who performed great tasks...there is the story of Bellerophon, a young Corinthian prince who goes off in search of adventure. Proteus, a jealous companion wishes for the death of Bellerophon, request that the king of the land kill him but the king, thinking it not wise to kill the prince outright, arranges for him to be sent to kill the terrible Chimera thinking that Bellerophon could not possibly survive. Bellerophon did the unthinkable, slayed the Chimera and won the favor of the king, wedding his daughter and later inheriting his throne.

The ancients lauded acts of bravery and courage, and it is an admiration that is not diminished in contemporary society. One of the most popular fictional characters today, Harry Potter, faces all manner of challenges, from dealing with a nasty, ill-tempered Uncle Vernon to a war with Lord Voldemort, the most powerful, evil wizard that ever lived. On a more serious note, our country, referred in song to the "land of the free and the home of the brave", is dotted with monuments to soldiers who have served and died in wars and battles. In many towns and cities, parades and other festivities are held on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and other occasions to recognize the service of those in the armed forces, an occupation which, by its very natures requires courage of its people. In 2001, after the tragedy of September 11th, memorials and tributes were offered around the country- and around the world- to the victims and survivors. Special attention was also paid to law enforcement officials, fire fighters, military personnel and those who died while trying to stop the hijackers.

On a smaller scale, courage is shown by people every day- elementary school children standing up to playground bullies, office workers risking their jobs to face a tyrannical boss, homosexual men and women coming out to their family and friends, a small child sleeping without a night light for the first time...these are all events which require one to move through and beyond their fears and anxieties, despite the risks getting beaten up, losing a job, being shunned by one's family, being eaten by the closet monster.

Often we find that when faced with a tough situation, we are able to act in a manner much more courageous than we previously thought possible, innumerable folks have found in everyday situations such as the schoolyard bully, as well as under much more dire and widespread circumstances.
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