Courage is the capacity to work with unwavering strength of mind in all situations. Quick decision, prompt action, and strong determination are the principal characteristics of courage. Courage is an affair of spirit, says Sir William Slim. It is not only a virtue but the basis of all virtues.
Courage is of two kinds – physical courage and moral courage. The distinction is quite sound; for a man can have one without the other. By physical courage, we mean the courage to face physical danger, such as pain, wounds, death, etc. By moral courage, we mean courage to face ridicule, hatred, and public disapproval for the sake of what we believe to be right. A soldier, who can face shells and guns, may be unable to face the mockery of his companions. He is physically brave, but a moral coward. On the other hand, there are men who dare to defy public opinion for conscience’s sake yet they cannot face physical torture. They are morally brave but physically weak.
Moral courage is a test of character. Danger and physical risks test our nerves and strength only. But it requires an exceptional man to overcome temptations to be dishonest when his children are starving at home. True manliness is of the mind, not of the body. The body suffers for a time and forgets all about it. but the torture and the pain of the mind may continue for years. The man who suffers patiently but not a word of complaint ever escapes his lips, is truly brave.
The progress of mankind is mainly due to men possessing great moral courage. They, who act according to the dictates of their conscience, despite ridicule, opposition, sneers, and criticism, are the real assets of nations. Social reformers, religious thinkers, martyrs and prophets, poets, and scientists have had the courage of their convictions. They have suffered the ridicule of the people, contempt, and even death. They have gone to the scaffold bravely and cheerfully because their moral courage has upheld them.
oral courage may be shown in all spheres of life. If a boy commits a wrong and then owns his mistake, he has shown moral courage. It also requires great moral courage on the part of a man to stand laughter, especially of those whom he likes and respects. But he who stands alone, goes against public opinion, rouses opposition, contempt, and hatred by daring to do what is right, really possesses a great deal of moral courage. The political speaker that tells the public unpleasant truths, the statesman who brings in necessary and just but unpopular measures, the prophet who proclaims his message to an unfriendly world, are all men of moral courage.
Moral courage and character are correlative. A robber has courage but no character. Such courage is harmful to society. Hence courage without character is despicable. It is good to have the heart of a lion but bad to use it like an animal.
therefore, means that we must practice what we think to be right and must not be afraid of taking an unpopular line of action. We should have the courage to utter unpleasant truths, and to go against the current of public opinion when the occasion demands.