COURAGE (Part one)


Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

“We become brave by doing brave acts,” observed Aristotle. Dispositions of character, virtues, and vices, are progressively fixed in us through practice. Thus, the Greek philosopher explained, “by being habituated to despise things that are terrible and to stand our ground against them we become brave, and it is when we have become so that we shall be most able to stand our ground against them.”

Standing ground against threatening things is not to be confused with fearlessness, however. Being afraid is a perfectly appropriate emotion when confronted with fearful things.

Melville writes, “ ‘I will have no man in my boat,’ said Othniel, ‘who is not afraid of a whale.’ By this, he seemed to mean, not only that the most reliable and useful courage was that which arises from the fair estimation of the encountered peril, but that an utterly fearless man is a far more dangerous comrade than a coward.”

The brave person is not one who is never afraid. That is rather the description of a rash or reckless person, someone who may be more harm than help in an emergency. It is hard to “educate” such a person on the spot. The coward, on the other hand, the one who characteristically lacks confidence and is disposed to be overly fearful, may yet be susceptible to the encouragement of example.

The infectious nature of strikingly courageous behaviour on the part of one person can inspire — and also in part can shame — a whole group. That was one key to the kind of courage inspired by Dr. Eric Williams in Trinidad and Grantley Adams in Barbados


Author: Godfrey Gregg