Courage is the ability to confront fear, but this does not mean that courage involves being without fear. Courage is often required when facing a fear of social injustice. The only way to become courageous is to set goals, take action to meet these goals, make mistakes and learn from them and keep on trying. Courage involves letting go of our ego and sometimes admitting that we are wrong. Courage involves having the strength to make changes and try new things. At times, although we might have tried our best, we all feel we have become defeated in what we have tied to achieve. Rishikajain (writer) discusses the difference between being defeated and ‘failing’ with this lovely quote:
‘Being defeated is a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent’
People who have success in life all share one quality and that quality is that they never give up. You might wonder how they are able to do this. The answer lies in the loving way they treat themselves and in the positive way they view life.
Instead of viewing a mistake as a failure, they view it as an opportunity to learn and improve. They do not waste time feeling sorry for themselves or waste time blaming others, they just pick themselves up and try again.
One of my favourite quotes about this issue is by Mary Anne Radmacher (author and artist), who said:
‘Courage does not always raw. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice, at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’
There are many courageous acts performed by everyone every day. A courageous act is a relative thing. What might be courageous, for one person, might not be to another. For example, if you have agoraphobia and you manage to take a walk outside your house (after never daring to do this before) then this is a courageous act, despite most people feeling comfortable about walking the streets. Therefore courage if not about doing what everyone else does, it is about facing your own personal fears and making changes to overcome them. This is where the importance of self love comes in. By self love I do not mean arrogance or feeling superior to others, I mean looking after our own needs so that we can be of greater benefit to those around us and ultimately to society.
If we love ourselves we will be open to the idea of personal growth. We will be happy to make changes and feel confident that if things don’t work out, at least we will have learnt something new which will help us in the future. If we don’t know what to do about problems we have, it takes courage to ask for help (which we should as early as possible). This does not mean we are a failure, what it means is that we are open to letting others help us make changes. If we do not ask for help, we are being selfish and wallowing in our own pity, like my character ‘Depression’. This is not only bad for us but it is also destructive to those around us and ultimately to society. We have a number of places that we can seek help from, but in order to do this we must recognise our own worth. Other people can be neglectful of our needs. Remember ‘Everyone is fighting a hard battle’ and sometimes people have so much to deal with themselves, that our needs are low on their list, but this does not mean we are not of value, it just means that we need to seek out help from someone who does not have as much ‘emotional baggage’ of their own. We must also not forget that we do not need to have a living teacher to learn. We have access to centuries of knowledge in books, on the internet and through verbal wisdom and stories which have passed through time. Sometimes these ways are a better way to get knowledge because they do not involve anyone else making personal judgements about us, we can thus, learn in our own time, without feeling pressured into making big changes too soon.
In my painting I have depicted a stone lion (the lion being a universal symbol of courage), which is silent, indicating that courage is often quiet but strong. The image I used was taken from a photograph of my friend and fellow Stuckist artist Bill Lewis, which was taken on top of the Notre Dame, in Paris, the day the Berlin Wall came down. I though this image was appropriate because it shows the two main forms of courage:
The courage of the people as a group against a repressive authority
The personal courage we all have inside us which helps us to keep going despite our obstacles. (My friend Bill appears to have had more than most and yet still he keeps trying – to learn more about this you will have to read his biography which he intends to publish soon)
At the base of the Notre Dame section are cheeky gargoyles, reminding us that part of courage involves having a sense of humour and not taking things too personally. The ability to laugh at our own mistakes helps us to take away any painful residue left by our ego being damaged.
In many eastern philosophies, courage is associated with patience. It is sometimes hard to endure things over a period of time, but we should remember that everything has a cycle and that nothing stays the same forever. Therefore courage is also about being able to visualise a better future, despite experiencing a difficult time in the present. Courage also is about having the ability to appreciate what is good in the present, rather than focussing on negative events which we have no control over. Courage is therefore about having control over ourselves. I will leave you with this quote to think about:
‘The person who masters himself through self control and discipline is truly undefeatable’