What is Courage?

Virtue of CourageBecause doing good is often difficult, we sometimes need help to carry out what we know needs to be done, like the warrior’s call before going into battle. Courage helps us to do that.

The most famous opera singer of his time, Enrico Caruso (1873 – 1921), was practicing this virtue when he was heard saying to himself before a performance, “The Little Me would like to strangle the important Me within! Move out Little Me, the Big Me would like to sing through me!” This expression of courage chased away his debilitating stage fright.

Other virtues, such as patience and perseverance, are associated with courage. They help us stick with what is good beyond when we’re starting to think, “When will this ever end?”

The right balance = Acceptance of the postponement of expected relief from suffering. Example: a mother who still behaves lovingly when her colicky baby cries for a long time.
Too little = Becoming impatient when our expectations don’t pan out – like getting mad because the microwave is taking too long.
Too much = Becoming numb to avoid feeling anything at all (insensitivity).

Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one. -Benjamin Franklin

The right balance = Firmly persisting in a good act or thought. Example: Getting out of bed every day at 5:00 a.m. to train for a skating competition.
Too little = Inconstancy, which is letting distractions lead you away from the good you are doing. Example: Answering a phone call you know is not important when you are studying for tomorrow’s final exam.
Too much = Stubbornness. Example: Unwillingness to put off your daily run for 10 minutes, although your wife has asked your help now in moving the sofa.