What is Courage?

Jun 03, 2015
Tagged with: What is Courage?

As a person with a physical disability I am, at times, approached by people and told that I am a very courageous person. Now, we can talk for hours on what this really means. We can talk and try to understand what the person was really trying to say. Recently, ESPN made an effort to define what courage means to them with an award. Not just any award but the one named after Arthur Ashe.The Ashe Award is one of the most prestigious in sports. Recipients are to possess strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines courage as: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. This definition does capture Arthur Ashe. But does it best capture the recent potential candidates and the selected winner for his award?

There has been a lot of discussion in regards to ESPN not giving the Arthur Ashe courage award to a US veteran who has a physical disability wounded in the line of battle but has triumphed. Now, it would be easy to chastise the network and the person who is receiving the award but there is a bigger picture here and a more worthy candidate.

It is obvious to say that both potential candidates are worthy. Is it trite to say that one deserves it more than the other? Probably. I do believe that it is foolish to condemn one over the other because majority of us have never known nor will we ever experience what it is like to be in their shoes. But this is not really the issue. The real question is do both potential candidates really express the definition of courage? Based on the Merriam-Webster definition of courage has one garnered more of what it truly means to have the mental strength to persevere? Maybe. Has one have faced greater danger than the other? Absolutely. Has one been more engulfed in greater fear? Possibly. There is room to speculate. Regardless, considering what these elements are that comprise this definition of courage to try to encapsulate it with an award, even the Arthur Ashe award, is inconsequential.

In my opinion, the true spirit of courage is to knowingly go into danger that could result in death for the benefit of others.

I remember a story of a US fighter pilot saying that he and his five (5) fighters were sent to assist one (1) US fighter pilot against 15 aircraft of the enemy. The six (6) US fighter pilots knew what was ahead. They knew they would probably not make it back. But they went anyways. Isn’t this courage? In regards to the two potential candidates and the selected winner, I am not sure it even applies to them.

In my humble opinion, the true winner of Arthur Ashe award is Lauren Hill. She truly personifies the reason for the Arthur Ashe award. The last days of her life are very similar to Arthur Ashe. Doing everything she could to benefit others no matter what the cost. And what was the cost? At the same time, she is also an example of the true definition of courage. Knowing what was ahead of her, yet still moving forward. This is courage. This is what I am really talking about.

What are your thoughts?

Author: Bob Lujano