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What does it mean to be brave?
I’ve tackled this before, in different ways, but it seems like a good time to take the issue up again. If you’d like to read the earlier posts, I’ve linked them below.
What does it mean to be brave? Bravery is an empirical thing, part dream and part hard reality. Does bravery really exist in the world as it is today or is it a relic of the past, a construct of some fantasy world of swords and might and magic?
Conan for instant. Or James Bond and Jason Borne. Frodo Baggins. In fictional worlds, it is easy to define and pin-point bravery. The hero stands for the defenseless villagers against the dragon or the ruffian from the street saves the Princess from danger and ends up, for his bravery, a Prince. Fiction is mostly black and white, freed from the messiness of grey by the harsh editing of a writer toiling through the blackness of the night.
It is harder to be brave today. Not only is everything a mix of black, white and grey, but the issues are more complex in these days of cellphones, Instagram and instant messenger. In World War II, Hitler was the Black, the Allies the White, unless you view the issue from the German side. Or maybe not. I am not German and have no idea what modern-day Germany feels about the past. To the Allies, he was The Black. The old saying is ‘might makes right.’ and the White held the might in this situation.
The definition of bravery is vaguer today than it has ever been, because we know so much more. No matter where we live, we can be up front and present at the smallest injustice anywhere in the world. Is there a difference between the fighter pilot who goes up against the enemy and the woman who manages to make it out of bed even with depression or chromic pain or any other disorder, disease or phobia so crippling to the most ordinary lives.
The dictionary definition of bravery is:
1 : the quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty : the quality or state of being brave : courage
And from Veronica Roth in Allegiant:
“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.
But sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.”
What is bravery to you and what kind of bravery do you have today?