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Call It Courage!

Atticus Finch, a character from “To Kill a Mockingbird,” once made the following remark about courage: “Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It is knowing you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.” He interprets courage as an abstract value understood and experienced rather than seen; this, however, is only one aspect of courage. In my view, courage is dependent on many other qualities, including pride, bravery, and integrity.

Courage over pride is something that Atticus mainly stresses over. It is having the pride to do something even when you are one hundred percent sure you aren’t going to be successful – and that’s a virtue. Not everyone who is courageous has to be successful in life, and in fact, not many courageous people actually are successful. That’s not what matters, though. What matters is that you tried, and in the end, you have no regrets about what you did. Atticus’s example shows what courage is. He knew well enough the severe consequences of defending Tom Robinson, an African American man, yet Atticus goes on to defend Tom. Although he ultimately loses the case, Atticus doesn’t have any regrets, because he has already done everything to the best of his ability. However, what remains undone remains a mystery, leaving people to think that circumstances could have been better; this often occurs because a certain person doesn’t have the courage to prove the world, or themselves, wrong. Absent courage frequently reminds me of a hanging question mark, as opposed to seeing something through to the end, in which case puts a period to the truth.

The second definition displays courage through bravery, shown through the ability to stand up against something. Robin Hood and other characters display this value well enough. They resist the oppressors, often fighting for the oppressed and against the intimidating. William G.T. Shedd stated that “a ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” Similarly, a person is always safe at home, but his duty doesn’t always lie in his comfort zone. Courage to me means coming out of that safety zone and exploring all there is to explore. In Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s Case, than meant competing against one of the best companies (Yahoo!) of the time yet not backing down. Ultimately, it was a successful venture. A life spent in comfort is a life wasted, because you don’t learn anything from it; additionally, you aren’t aware of your own abilities. In my view, courage shows one what he is truly capable of, no matter good or bad, and that is what defines the beauty of courage.

Last but not least, courage depends and nourishes one’s judgment on moral values and integrity. One such way courage can help is by standing up for what is right, not the common consensus. If everyone just goes by the majority, then not only will uniqueness cease to exist, but so will justice; majority is not the same as justice. During the Middle Ages, everyone believed in witchcraft and witch-hunting, but that didn’t mean that those things were real or morally correct. In the early 1800’s, slavery was accepted as normal, but that wasn’t justified by integrity, either. I would consider the people who had the audacity to stand up during this period of time as courageous, because they had the courage to stand up for morality. In many instances throughout history, people have been misled to think that courage is resisting a majority or minority, when it actually is supposed to lead people to make a morally correct decision. Rather, courage should be used as a tool for good judgment.

As I have hopefully conveyed, courage expands on its relation to pride, bravery, and morality, but at the same time, the process can work the other way as well. It can be thought of as a mutual relationship, or even better, understanding that connects courage to so many valuable qualities.




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