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Hu Pryor

Valor yes. Foolhardiness no.
by Hubert Pryor

Dare I say what I think about courage, the topic of this issue of SoulfulLiving.com? I guess I dare if I have courage.

But then, what is courage?

Such is the challenge we face on this website when we read or write what makes up the theme of each issue. And it occurs to me that the challenge this time calls for some deep and searching thinking.

OK, we start with the word "courage" and check its meaning as a dictionary has it. The one on my desk has this definition: "The attitude of facing and dealing with anything recognized as dangerous, difficult, or painful, instead of withdrawing from it."

Fair enough. But what does that tell us about HOW to face and deal with anything dangerous, difficult or painful? Or WHY we should or shouldn't face and deal with such a concern.

Surely thinking people considering the subject of courage can't do so casually. In everyday parlance we probably do. We hear that someone "had the courage" to do something. We see virtue.

And yet, on second thought, so-called courage can turn out be foolhardiness. Consider the possibility that you're on a cruise ship that's under way and see a man who's a fellow passenger fall into the sea. Would you show courage if you jumped in after him?

Maybe yes. Maybe no.

Yes, if plunging in after him, say with a life buoy, could save him. No, not if no one else saw him fall in.

If you were the only person to see him fall overboard and you jumped in after him, by the time you hit the water you'd be half a mile from him. The ship would continue serenely on her course and you'd both drown.

Wouldn't it be best to alert the bridge and have the ship reverse course? It's an alternative that has indeed been known to save the life of a "Man overboard!"

And you'd still be alive, though unheroically, without exhibiting "courage."

Too bad, some of us might say--those of us caught up in the appealing romance of heroism. In today's world, as many see it, of pussyfooting and indecision, courage of any sort draws admiration. Fair enough.

But to give the idea of courage its virtuous due, maybe we can start by looking at the origin of the word. It stems from "corage," the Old French word for heart or spirit, based in turn on the Latin "cor," meaning "heart."

That way, we can see courage as an impulse based on the verities underlying this website, SoulfulLiving.com. Soul, meaning spirit underlying our lives as humans, can inspire us beyond what our five senses tell us. So let us invite that extrasensory awareness each day.

Yes, I'm all for courage in that light.

©Copyright 2006 Hubert Pryor. All Rights Reserved.

Hubert Pryor
Hubert Pryor
is a retired editor of national magazines--Modern Maturity and Science Digest among others--Hubert Pryor is the author of SOUL TALK: Positive Mind Treatments to Turn Your Life Around (available through DeVorss & Co., 553 Constitution Ave., Camarillo, CA 93012, 800-843-5743, www.devorss.com) and a forthcoming book, SERENITY 101: Spiritual Wisdom, Ancient and Modern, for Peace of Mind Today.


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