Courage is the willingness to face risk, discomfort, and intimidation.
The modern world offers scarce opportunities to exercise courage. Few will ever see combat, and danger has largely been removed from work, travel, and the procuring of food.
Whereas artistic and intellectual courage was once required in flaunting dominant paradigms, it is seldom called upon in a live-and-let-live culture devoid of a true status quo.
Though the chances to be courageous have shrunk, the human heart still yearns to be brave.
Given this dilemma, we have tried to relocate courage in vulnerability. But because disclosures around identity, mental health, and commitments to/relapses from sobriety are typically met with almost universal approbation — and when shared on social media, become a person’s most popular content — they cannot be said to carry risk, and thus cannot be said to necessitate courage.
This has largely left the endurance of disease as the repository for courage.
But it is not in illness alone that modern citizens have the opportunity to be brave, but also in attempting to retain the health of mind, body, and soul.
There is the courage to keep moving when nothing in the environment requires getting up from a chair.
There is the courage to create meaning when society no longer bequeaths it as an automatic inheritance.
There is the courage to feel the fear of missing out but still choose to look away from algorithmic feeds.
There is the courage to be of good cheer when the media relentlessly beats the drums of death, discord, and destruction.
There is the courage to make your strengths, rather than your weaknesses, the centerpiece of your sense of self.
There is the courage to stay stable and sane in a topsy-turvy and crazy world — the courage to be well when so many forces conspire to make us sick.