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DEFINING COURAGE

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DEFINING COURAGE

Post  UNEEK on Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:44 pm

This is something I could easily find myself reading in a "Coffee Shop" - I found it very interesting and wanted to share with you - I hope you will find it useful - enlightening and encouraging -- UNEEK

Courage: Excerpted from “What Does That Mean? Exploring
Mind, Meaning and Mysteries by Dr. Eldon Taylor


“Strength is granted to us all when we are needed to serve
great causes.”


— Winston Churchill


What is courage? Is it a selfless act that’s offered for the
benefit of others? Is there a higher form than this?


There are acts of bravery that are clearly in the name of
self-preservation. There are true accounts of those who have freed themselves
from traps by cutting limbs from their bodies. That takes the proverbial guts
to accomplish, but what I want to examine transcends personal gain—the selfless
courage that’s offered on behalf of others. Where does this come from, and what
is it?


If fear is largely about being abandoned, then perhaps the
social side of that anxiety cultivates and perpetuates the idea of selfless
courage. Perhaps it arises from some deeper sense or urge than socialization.
Are we wired to admire and foster selflessness?


Movies portraying such courage move me in very emotional
ways. In fact, I don’t know anyone who, watching a well-acted film telling a
story of selfless courage, isn’t moved by the portrayal. Why is that? What does
that mean?


Is it possible that selfless courage, expressed in an act
that offers life or limb for others, is taught to us in the same way that we
learn our other values? Do you think that extremist Muslims can watch a suicide
bomber and find themselves as moved by this act of courage as an American
viewing a fictional character saving the planet by sacrificing himself? Is
courage a matter of cultural relevance?


Cultural Relevance


Some things seem universal, such as laughter, crying, and a
parent who runs into a burning house to rescue a child. People going to the aid
of others in natural disasters fall into this category as well. Is courage
universal but guided by local morality? Apparently not all life everywhere is
universally held to be sacred. How can that be?


In all parts of the world, children are taught something
called ethnocentricity. This is the notion that they were born into the best
country, have the best system of government, and so forth. Thus the notion of
national loyalty is fostered. Young people are equally enculturated with a
system of values that supports the social group into which they’re born and
raised. Religion plays its role and further deepens the “truth” of life. So in
aggregate, individuals know little about who or what they might have been and
believed if they’d been born somewhere else. Morality then becomes totally
culture dependent—right?


Universal Values


Are there any values that should transcend all others and be
universal? Obviously, preservation of life is one such moral imperative, for
without it we’d be left with just the law of the jungle and the survival of the
fittest. Our civilized world at least pretends to believe in the value of life or
there would be no charges of crimes against humanity, nor would there be the
charitable actions of governments when major tragedies hit other nations. Is
this all just a matter of reciprocity? In other words, do I give you the right
to life so that you’ll do the same for me? Or is there truly a moral imperative
that moves the human psyche to offer this right to everyone unilaterally?


One would think that religion and government, which are the
tools society uses to teach values, would insist on basic, universal moral
principles. What does it suggest when our institutions promote different
standards? What does it mean when the life of someone who practices a
particular religious faith is valued more than that of someone who doesn’t? How
can that be called holy?


Theories in penology (the study of prison management and the
treatment of offenders) insist that at least one element underlying punishment
is the need or right for society to exact a sort of revenge, to see justice
carried out. Following from this, victims’ families weigh in on death-penalty
cases, and their needs (desires) are taken into consideration. This is a form
of getting even—or “evener.” Is it a healthy way for society to practice
justice? Is this another form of differentiation between the relative values of
comparable lives?


What if you learned that capital punishment didn’t deter
crime? What if you knew that it cost much more to execute criminals than to
warehouse them in solitary confinement for life? What if you discovered that
lifelong isolation was more of a deterrent than being put to death? What if it
was revealed that a statistical error rate existed in death-penalty cases,
showing that a certain number of innocent individuals were found guilty and
their lives taken by society for crimes they didn’t commit? At what point would
you decide that capital punishment was inappropriate—or would you?


You may think that you share the moral imperative that all
life is sacred until you reflect on your views regarding capital punishment, or
perhaps you already oppose it and nothing has changed for you. How do you feel
about the worst criminal you can bring to mind? Is there anything within you
that would cause you to take up arms and use them with the intent to kill?


The Value of a Life


It seems that for all of us there’s some mitigation
regarding the relative value of life. A boat is sinking and only six out of
eight people can survive. Two are old, in their 80s, and the rest are young (30
and younger). Whom do you save? Oh, but wait a minute—one of the older people
is a genius with the answer to a significant world problem in his head, just
waiting to arrive at his destination and present the material to the right
people. One of the younger children is dying of cancer and has only a week or less
to live. Now whom do you pick?


What if you’re among the passengers, only one of whom can’t
be saved. The others are all fearful and willing to push and shove to be among
the survivors. You have two small children and a spouse, and the other
remaining passengers are all big burly men, none of whom will be left behind.
What do you do? Is this courage?


Defining Courage


When we see courage, we know it—or do we? Does our culture
teach this response? Is there an innate definition or root for courage per se? Does
self-sacrifice count? If so, doesn’t that mean that acts of altruism are also
courageous? Indeed, wouldn’t that mean that Mother Teresa’s life was an act not
just of charity and love, but of supreme courage?


If fear is all about pain or abandonment, is courage the
opposite? Is it the absence of fear? We can easily see through this shallow
question, for many so-called acts of valor have taken place in the midst of the
hero’s or heroine’s deeply felt fear.


As we inquire into the nature of courage, it becomes evident
that it isn’t just some bold act, such as rushing into a burning building. In
reality, it includes many softer versions, if you will. Sometimes an act of
terrorism may be disguised as courage—or is this quality not a universal moral
imperative? Does it have any natural root in the makeup of being human? What
does that mean? Are there any values that aren’t culture dependent, culturally
trained, or quid pro quo in nature? What does that say about being human?


For more information on a special offer for Eldon Taylor’s
latest release, What Does That Mean?, please go to:


Exploring Mind, Meaning and Mysteries
http://evolutionezine.com/eldon-taylor-3/

*****************
Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength; and strength is not used rightly when it serves only to carry a man above his fellows for his own solitary glory. He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own -- Bryant

“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” ― Wayne W. Dyer


To be persuasive, one must be believable;
To be believable, one must be credible;
To be credible, one must be truthful.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
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Re: DEFINING COURAGE

Post  Horizon on Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:46 pm

Wonderful uneek....as always! Thank you for sharing!:flower:

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Re: DEFINING COURAGE

Post  alleyrose on Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:26 pm

:yes:

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