Courage: Grace Under Pressure
The Batflu has driven us all batty, with talk of many things most of us never expected we’d have to think about. But amid all the talk of safety and suffering, lives vs. livelihoods, deaths from the pathogen and deaths from isolation, there’s been one term strangely absent, except when it comes to our heroic healthcare workers: courage.
The absence is strange because the virtue of courage is precisely what is supposed to kick in, for everyone, at a moment like this when we’re all on the frontlines. Since we’ve lost touch with the virtue tradition and even with the simple wisdom that used to guide everyday life, we don’t much give something like courage – the need to “man (or woman) up” – a thought anymore.
Instead, we’ve been busy trying to create a world where everyone is “safe” and no one has to face anything “offensive.” And where institutions – or someone else, in any case – will someday arrange things so that no one will ever have to be personally courageous again.
This is the purest delusion and – sad to say – even widespread fear of death seems not to have brought many people back to reality. There’s an old Latin saying: mors certa, hora incerta (“Death is certain, the hour uncertain”). We know that it will all someday, perhaps even today, come to an end. Most people spend their lives trying to ignore or deny the fact. Still, every day brings uncertainties and dangers – that demand courage.