Perhaps it’s hearing the stories of courageous Olympic athletes. Perhaps witnessing close to home examples. Whatever the reason - lately I’ve been thinking a lot about courage.
Are we born with courage? What is this invisible gift we admire? If we’re born with it, why does it evaporate in some and not in others?
The dictionary defines courage as: the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
How then do we explain the courage of a small child? A child who, supposedly, has not reached the age of reason. My brother’s great granddaughter Isabella had a liver transplant when she was 18-months old. Her family bolstered her recovery with love. She is now a three-year-old miracle. Or, as she would say – three and a half.
At two years she would identify, separate, and under a watchful eye administer her own medications. She somehow grasped the challenge she faced. At age three years she stood before her kindergarten class, described her operation, and answered questions.
Isabella seems to understand the importance of life. In a local park recently, she witnessed a youngster being loudly scolded. The child was banished to a bench. The parents stood a short distance away. Isabella first stood directly in front of the punished child. Did not say a word. She then did the same thing with the parents. Just a long questioning look.
How did she know that sometimes words are not necessary? Was her message – life is too short for anger and hurt? Where did she get such courage?
Examples of courage are everywhere. Just look and listen. As a three-and-a-half-year-old instinctively knew … words are not always necessary. It’s being there to look right at the situation. To silently say you understand. To relearn. Perhaps there is another way to tackle a perceived problem.
Courage has many faces. It knows no age, race, education, or gender. It can surface at any time. It can disappear if it’s not nurtured. It’s something most of us admire.
Words from Amanda Gorman’s poem are an excellent reminder: For there is always light, if we are brave enough to see it, if we are brave enough to BE it. Her edited message: Have courage. Have the moral and mental strength to persevere.
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