A Scout is taught to face danger even when he is afraid. They are taught to have the courage to stand for what is right even when they are in the minority; to stand tall and proud even when others threaten and laugh at him. Above all, they are taught to show bravery when standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.
This will be a pretty short article. It speaks for itself.
I do want to share an anecdote from one of my favorite literary characters, Atticus Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird.” To me, it perfectly explains bravery, and what it truly is, and why we should aspire to be brave.
In one chapter of the book, there is an old woman who is the next door neighbor. She is old, cranky, ornery and rude. Atticus’ children don’t particularly like her, and they destroy her flowers one day. As punishment, Atticus has them read to her over the course of weeks.
To cut a long story short, they discover (after her death) that she was fighting cancer, and became a morphine addict. Atticus had them read to her to help take her mind off her terrible pain, and help her break her addiction so she could die with dignity, according to her own principles. He tells his children that she was the bravest person he ever knew. They were puzzled by this, and he continues to tell them that he didn’t want them to get the wrong idea about courage; that it’s more than just a man with a gun in his hand. He tells them it’s when you know you’re beat, but you continue on anyway, even knowing you’ll most likely lose. That’s real courage.
God, I love that lesson.
When we realize that true bravery and courage is so much more than what video games, movies and the media portray, it makes so much sense. It’s the small, often times hidden and unshared battles people face every single day.
It’s the single mom raising several kids on a minimum wage salary.
It’s the young student standing up to an older bully.
It’s the person defiantly and emphatically fighting back against cancer or sickness.
It’s these battles that show true bravery. These are the beautiful moments in life where we see how truly resilient and brave human beings can be. It motivates and inspires us because we can imagine how much it would take if we were in those same situations. We can empathize with their humanity.
To me, that is truly inspiring.