Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Fundamentals of Courage

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt faced many challenges during her life. She married Franklin Delano Roosevelt at age 20, then around age 30 she discovered that FDR was having an affair with her own secretary. Shortly thereafter, FDR became paralyzed, and her campaigning on his behalf played a huge role in him winning election to the Presidency of the U.S. Through her fearless and direct actions, she was able to make the most of things, and ultimately became one of the ten most widely admired people of the 20th century according a poll of the American people. She knew that positive thinking was not courage. Talking to her friends about plans for the future is not courage. Courage is an action.
It takes action to overcome a fear, and only through taking action does one become more bold and courageous.Through action directed at fear, the fear is overcome and courage is strengthened. So, in order to become more courageous, it is necessary to embrace the first fundamental element of courage- action.
"Conscience is the root of all true courage; if a man would be brave let him obey his conscience." - James Freeman Clarke
James Clarke was an early 19th century theologian and author. A graduate of Harvard College in 1829, he then became a minister for the Unitarian church in Louisville, Kentucky. At the time, Kentucky was a slave state, but James Clark stood up against his state's government and advocated strongly for the abolition of slavery. This strength of conviction, coupled with action, made Clarke a courageous person others could follow and respect. Courage comes from this strength to follow one's conscience, even if it goes against popular opinion or as in the case of Clarke, the government. This is the second fundamental principle of courage. When actions become aligned with the conscience, courage grows and is strengthened.
Taking positive action that is in alignment with the conscience is a simple concept. To strengthen courage, one must act upon the things known to be true, just, and right.
Is there something the community needs to be improved? What can be done to help? Is there something in the family that can improve? What are some simple actions that will help make things better? Is there something that should be confronted, but fear is getting in the way of acting?
Gallup News Service. Mother Teresa Voted by American People as Most Admired Person of the Century. 31-Dec-1999. Retrieved 24-Feb-2012.Eleanor Roosevelt was #9 on this list.
Heston T (ed). Courage Builder. Internet Medical Association, Las Vegas, 2011.
Published by Tom Heston MD 2/24/2012
Tom Heston MD is a Johns Hopkins trained physician who practices clinical medicine in the Pacific Northwest.