The very model of courage in the history of human progress is Martin Luther King Jr. A grateful nation acknowledges his contribution and sacrifice with a federal holiday honoring his birthday on January 15. Thinking about the arc of his selfless and tireless efforts to serve humanity inspired us to consider, what is courage?
Often in challenging times we can be dazzled by outward acts of incredible self-sacrifice, goodness, and even defiance – but don’t realize the depth and development of the courage required prior to producing the act.
Individual courage usually forms quietly, modestly, privately. The building of courage just isn’t that obvious – even to the individual! Until there is the demand, that moment when it is clear to act for justice and humanity. What then becomes obvious is that the willingness to act can’t be accomplished without the preparation of courage.
Goodness knows, opportunities to do what matters abound. Bobby Kennedy offered a short list: “Stand up for an ideal, act to improve the lot of others, strike out against injustice…” We all can name our favorite “profiles in courage.” Martin Luther King would surely be at the top of many such lists.
But courageous preparation – the journey to be willing and ready to act – is often subtle, private, nameless. And it really is required of each of us.
Here’s how you can prepare: dare to think for yourself and consider other perspectives, break from the herd and follow your own path to make a contribution, offer ideas that might seem wildly impractical – at first – but might inspire and encourage others. You are the driver of your courage.
Courage is an inherent spiritual value that rests in the soil of a good heart and, with nourishment and the light of day, grows to bear fruit and feed humanity. So let’s resolve to prepare to be courageous, starting now. The purpose? Because you expect to be called to action.
“If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values – that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Here are some recent interviews and videos on individual preparation of courage:
Video: An InspiredToGive.org original meditative video on Cultivating Courage
Podcast: Travis Thomas of Live Yes, And asks, “What does courage mean to you? How are you living and practicing courage on a day-to-day basis as you pursue your YES – Your Excellent Self?”
The Golden Motive: Seek to Understand, Not Prove Someone Wrong