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Showing posts with label courage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label courage. Show all posts

Saturday, July 8, 2017

I Want To See You Be Brave: Foolish courage versus legitimate bravery.

Due to a just completed Washington, D.C. trip, I took a bit over a week away from my blog. However, given that part of my D.C. trip consisted of visiting heroes of the American Revolution as well as those who died in the service of our country, I think the topic matter of bravery is appropriate at this time.

Anyway, I think that I like most people, have some areas of life in which I'm brave in and some areas in which I am not so brave in.  I can be very brave in tolerating pain, but I've been known to avoid making necessary calls to deal with a creditor.  Sometimes, my bravery (or lack thereof) will be based on whom I'm having to deal with.  Sometimes, however it can be dependent on how I am feeling at the moment--anxious, carefree, etc...

I thought I'd take the opportunity to make a few observations on bravery, specifically when it is legitimate and when it is what I call 'foolish courage'.  I tend to be a realist by nature, so I don't expect 100% agreement on my take from someone who is more of a dream, but I digress.  Below are some examples.

Legitimate Bravery 
  • Handling an illness, especially where pain or discomfort is involved, with grace and dignity.
  • Facing (legitimate) and certain discipline without complaining, making excuses or trying to justify the actions or behavior which led to it.
  • Facing an unexpected loss (personal or financial) and focusing on what needs to be done rather than being paralyzed
    • Making burial arrangements
    • Making payment arrangements when unexpected expenses show up.
  • Risking your own safety and health to protect others
    • Fighting fires as a fireman
    • Protecting lives as a police officer, especially in dangerous situations.
    • Stepping up and protecting loved ones (or strangers) when threatened
  • Saying no to peer pressure especially where there is a high risk of being berated or worse.
  • Standing up for your beliefs when there is a cost to it.

Foolish Courage
  • Building up the 'courage' to do something reckless, stupid or wrong.
    • Drag racing or a reckless stunt where you aren't trained at either in an attempt to prove how 'brave' you are.
    • Purposely confronting and being antagonistic toward an aggressive person or group.
    • Seeking to get illegal drugs or in illicit behavior where there is a high cost to getting 'caught'.
  • Trying to do a dangerous task by yourself, when you have readily available help.
  • Not avoiding a troubled area of town just to show how 'brave' you are, when there is a perfectly legitimate alternative route.
  • Taking on an assignment which you are hopelessly unqualified and will likely fail rather than taking on a challenging but more realistic task, especially where the motivation is greed or to prove something.

Sometimes it is clear whether one is engaging what I call 'foolish courage' or 'legitimate bravery' and sometimes the lines are blurred.  Sometimes, I believe the two can overlap.  For example, when you try to rescue someone you clearly aren't qualified or able to and put your own life in danger.  On the one hand that is brave, but on the other hand that can be foolish.  For me the biggest determining factor is what is the individual's motivation.  That is, is he or she being 'brave' because it is the right thing to do, or because it is designed to gain them validation or fill a selfish desire. If the behavior is done because it is the right thing to do, it is more likely to be done with legitimate bravery.  If it is because of wrong or faulty motivation, it is likely done with foolish courage.

A good way to wrap this blog up is by asking a few questions when considering whether you are being brave or being foolish (some of which I have already alluded to):
  • Are your actions based on the need for validation?
  • Are your actions based on seeking some selfish gain?
  • Are your actions putting your own interests over that of another?
  • Are your actions based on desiring to the the right thing? And do you think about them or just do them/
  • If your actions have mixed motivations, would you engage in the 'brave' behavior if there was no chance of gain or validation for you out of it.  
    • If only your Higher Power (God) knew of your good deed, would you still do it?
    • Or do you feel the need to have your good deed noticed?
  • Are your actions based on trying to satisfy an addictive 'need'?
  • Is there a safer (and effective) way to accomplish what you are considering doing?
  • Has the opportunity to be 'brave' presented itself or is it something that is being forced?  

In many cases, it is clear to all whether we are engaging in foolish courage or actual bravery.  However, in many cases, only we and our Higher Power (God) truly know.  In those situations, if we are honest with ourselves, I believe we will know the difference.  My takeaway: There will always opportunities to be brave should you desire to do so.  When the opportunity appears to present itself, put your motivations second and see if it is the right time to be brave or if you are likely just going to engage in 'foolish courage'.  I believe at those times we know in our heart what is the right thing to do and if we don't get in our own way will do it.

Just some thoughts...

    Monday, December 26, 2016

    The truth shall set you free

    I've been told by a friend that I am a "truth-seeker" and I was once told that a strength of mine is a willingness to listen to the truth even when it is painful.  I feel that the friend who called me that, shares the same attribute.  Perhaps that's why we are good friends.  We at times differ in our exact conclusion--be it political or otherwise.  However, we each share a thirst for bottom line, a thirst for clarity, a thirst for accuracy.  As an aside, I felt my late brother was this way as well and wish he had known him.

    For me, I usually "need to know".  When I can't know, I am bothered.  When I have just 'an answer', but my gut tells me it's not the right answer, I am bothered.  When a situation appears to be 'off', but I don't exactly know why, I am bothered.  When I sense someone is being disingenuous with me or humoring me with an answer, I am bothered.   In all these instances, especially in areas of significance, I will continue to process over time until I've come up with what I feel is the closest thing to truth that I can.  


    This 'need to know' sounds good in some ways, in some ways:

    • Leads to excellent problem solving/brainstorming skills.
    • Leads to more honest relationships or at least a better understanding of a relationship.
    • Leads to solving issues which are vexing initially.
    • Leads to some situations where the truth provides relief.

    In some ways, it is very tiring:

    • Leads to uncomfortable uncertainty when you don't understand or know.
    • Leads to an inability to let go easily or get past a problem.
    • Leads sometimes to focusing too much energy on the trees and missing the forest. 
    • Leads sometimes to recognizing that  the answer is more difficult than originally thought.
    • Leads sometimes to pain & a block when/where the truth is not kind.
    • Leads to sometimes being a killjoy.

    When I realize something somewhat profound or a confusion/uncertainty is made clear for me, to me it is the "Spirit" flowing through me.  For some, they may call it intuition or gut feeling.  But whatever you call it, I see it as the "truth flowing through" a person.  I think each of us has a God-given ability to truth detect, but for various reasons we don't use it effectively.

    • Truth can be embarrassing.  This is especially true if we've 'bought' a lie for so long.  Think Nazi Germany where they bought the Hitler's lies until they couldn't anymore.
    • Truth can be painful or shameful.  If we've pumped up ourselves as being a "good person", but have made (and minimized) mistakes, it is easier to keep the lie than to own up to the mistakes.  If we can only avoid the painful/shameful truth, we don't have to face our deficiencies.
    • Truth can be inconvenient.  It is easier to dismiss a problem with a simple narrative or a stereotype than to actually dig in and deal with the problem that recognizing the truth forces us to face up to.  Race relations in this country on all sides is an unfortunate example of this.
    • Truth can have consequences.  Sometimes a relationship can be so broken that facing that means facing the end of the relationship.  Sometimes, owning up to a crime you've committed means facing hard time.  

    Ultimately, I think it is healthiest to live a life in which we are honest with ourselves, others and our Higher Power.  That requires the ability to be open to and be willing to accept the truth whatever the cost. However, for me there are a few things to note.
    1. It is okay if we don't have all the answers to everything.  In this life we won't get a chance to know all the answers.  Besides often times while we may not get an answer to a question we have, the pursuit of that answer can lead to the answer to other questions being discovered.   In a quest to study or understand different kinds of bacteria behind viruses he was careless in handling one of his cultures.  He noticed where it grew mold, the bacteria was prevented from spreading and hence the advent of penicillin and other antibiotics.
    2. Sometimes we will find or 'discover' the answers not when we want them, but when we need them.  In other words, we may have not been ready for the truth to be revealed to us just yet. In other words, it is important to be able to accept a time of uncertainty in the meantime. I think sometimes my Higher Power--God--works that way in my life.
    3. If we are willing to face the truth while we may face a time of pain, we can often look back on it at a point in the future and realize it was a necessary step in our growth or healing.
    4. Not everyone is ready to 'hear it like it is or 'face the truth'.  Just because you are ready to face the truth, doesn't mean any or all relevant other parties are.  Wisdom to know when to share 'the truth' is just as important as willingness to.  That doesn't have to mean being dishonest, but instead can be mean being respectful to the needs of others.  

    I guess my overall takeaway out of this is to be open to the truth.  Do your best to remove your blocks from it.  Be open to the good and bad that it can bring or reveal.  

    Just some thoughts post Christmas.  A time to reflect on the truth and the year that soon will be.

    -- Rich