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Archive for the tag “courage”

One Day at a Time

It can be positive to live each day like the last so as to make the most of life without regrets.

It can be unhealthy to live each day like the last in the sense that one wonders about ending life the next day,  enduring one more day without hope.

It can be courageous to live one day at a time while trying to overcome addiction or the difficulty of an unrelenting medical condition.

Some people are fighting to survive; others are longing to die.

Same choice.  Different perspectives.

 

Facing Fears

In the sci fi movie, The Highlander, certain people who are “immortals” cannot be killed by anyone except another immortal cutting off the head of the vanquished.  (Otherwise, the immortals live for centuries without aging).  When the victor cuts off the head of his opponent, an electrical power surrounds him, somehow bestowing the power on him from the one he defeated, making that victor even stronger.

Sometimes I feel like that.  When I face my fears, I emerge stronger than before.

There is a phenomenon that a person who survives a battle, even with wounds and scars, becomes stronger for the next battle.  Most battles are not in war, but personal problems of a normal life.  Most scars are not physical, but emotional.  Most courage is not a lack of fear, but a facing of fear.

John Wayne, my favorite philosopher, said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”

You, dear readers, have your own examples from your own lives, when you have saddled up and gotten back on the horse.

john wayne quote on courage

Bravery of Cowards

This is about facing fears.

Fearlessness is not the same as bravery.  The rugged John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”

So which is braver:  the child who is not afraid to jump off the high board or the one who is afraid of heights but jumps off anyway?   One is fearless, so he has no fear to overcome.  Not being afraid of what others are afraid of can be admired, surely, and can be of great advantage, particularly in a physical fight, but the person who overcomes fear and does what is difficult because it needs to be done, is being brave.  That is courage.

And there is a paradox that goes with this.  At least in my experience, when I do what I do not want to do because I am afraid to face the consequences, yet face those frightening consequences, afterwards I feel stronger, maybe proud of myself, and probably trusting more in God who got me through what I feared.

That does not mean I necessary was wrong about the pain of what I feared, just that I got through something that I did not want to have to go through.

I sometimes think of the movie, The Highlander.  It is a ridiculous premise about immortals battling until there is only one.  What I took from it is that each time one immortal defeated (by beheading) another immortal, the victor became even stronger, taking power from the other he vanquished in moving up the tournament ladder.  I believe that each victory over fear makes one stronger for the next battle with fear.

It has not been my experience that facing the dreaded unpleasantness necessarily makes it less unpleasant.  Often I try to encourage myself by asking myself, “What is the worst that can happen?”  Sometimes the worst I imagined does happen.  Sometimes it is even worse than I imagined.  But when I get through the experience I wanted to avoid, whether it turned out to be not so bad, just as bad, or worse than I imagined, having gotten through any of those categories makes me feel stronger.

Also, when I need to trust in God, I recall the question which the Lord asked Moses, “Is the LORD’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”  Numbers 11: 23.  The correct answer is “No, the Lord’s arm is not too short to deliver you.”
When we trust and obey, we are not alone, and can have the power to overcome fear.  Even us chickens, including Moses and John Wayne, can be brave.

The Duke on Courage

“Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”

— John Wayne,
American actor

It is good to remember the distinction between just plain not being afraid and courage as overcoming fear.  Who is braver?

If a person is not afraid of horses, for example, and in fact loves horses, then getting on a horse is not an act of bravery, it is just a way to have fun.  Some bronc riders are fearless; others have fear but are courageous.  Observers can’t tell the difference.

This principle applies to more than physical courage.  If a person is afraid to make a difficult telephone call, but does it anyway because it needs to be done, that person is showing courage by facing what is feared. 

It is appropriate that an actor who played roles of brave characters reminds us that we can act brave even when we are afraid. Acting brave can be courageous.

Victimhood as a Choice

The advantage of being a victim of life’s circumstances is that you are not at fault and thus can blame others, including God, for your problems and failures.

I am not talking about  fault as in causation; obviously, crime victims or accident victims harmed by the negligence of another did not cause what happened to them, but neither do victims of disease or abuse.  I am talking about choices in how to react to what happened.

I am talking about making excuses rather than making efforts to overcome even things that are not your fault.

I am talking about the dangers of self pity.

For example, if only Archie Manning was my father, I would be an NFL quarterback like Peyton and Eli, but as it is, I did not have a chance.  All of us whose fathers are not Archie Manning have a great excuse.  Let us blame our own fathers and, of course, God.  Life is so unfair to people who see life that way.

I admire people who do not see life that way.  Wise people know that there are blessings and troubles in everyone’s life, even for Peyton Manning.

My Uncle Luke was an excellent athlete.  He was actually a Major League pitcher.  God blessed him with talents that he used.  He also had an injury to his throwing arm.  I never heard him say if that was his fault or his coach’s fault or God’s fault.  It is just something that happened which ended his pitching career.  But that was a small part of his life.

Luke played the organ and had his own radio show.  He was a local celebrity.  He was a top car salesman, even with a bum arm.

Luke had the gift of enthusiasm. He was cheerful.  He was friendly.  He would greet people from across the street, calling them by name.  People liked it that he knew who they were, that he liked them, and that he knew their names.

When he changed from the Ford dealer to the Chevy dealer, most of his Ford customers decided to buy Chevrolets because the brand did not matter as much as it was important to buy their car from Luke.  What mattered was that Luke knew them and would take care of them.  They trusted Luke more than the car manufacturers.  Plus, it was fun to make the deal with Luke and enjoy his sense of humor.  Everyone felt that Luke gave them the best deal, so they came back again and again.

Luke had a habit of creating nicknames for other people.  I liked my nickname.  He called me Tarzan because I was a competitive swimmer.  He did not pressure me to be a pitcher in Little League.  I was a catcher and that was okay with him.  Imagine how fun it was for me to introduce Uncle Luke to my Little League friends.  (You will be surprised to read herein that I did not play in the Major Leagues.  Sad but true.  How unfair of God towards me.)

Another baseball connection was that Luke, like Lou Gehrig, was afflicted with A.L.S., commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

I never heard Uncle Luke complain.  If he did not complain, maybe I should not either.

Thanks, Luke, for the example of excellence, cheerfulness, and courage.

Thanks, God, for Uncle Luke being in my life.                              

Okies Don’t Scare Easy

History, literature, movies, and music include many stories, some even true, about courage.   People admire courage, and should.  Americans, particularly Westerners, pride themselves on facing adversity bravely.

Tom Petty wrote a song that was featured in the recent movie, Appaloosa.  The song is called  “Scare Easy.”  Some of the lyrics are:  “I don’t scare easy.  Don’t fall apart when I’m under the gun.  You can break my heart and I ain’t gonna run.  I don’t scare easy for no one.”

The tornadoes in Oklahoma have been devastating.  We pray for the many who have lost their homes and loved ones. These folks have demonstrated that they don’t scare easy.  God bless them!

Listen to the entire song performed by Mudcrutch for the movie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GGF3Zz2o9Q&feature=fvwrel

Leadership in Public Service

One of my pre-campaign advisers suggested that I agree with everyone about everything to win the popular vote by being popular.  If a person asks what I think about something controversial, I can answer with a question.  “That is an important question.  I am glad you brought it up.  What do YOU think, sir?”  Then, depending on the response, I could simply agree.  “When in Rome….”  Or Boulder.

Obviously, much of what I write is “tongue in cheek,”  including my pre-campaign strategizing.  Today I want to bring up something more serious.

I admire many people who serve those of us in the general public by running for office, which is difficult for many reasons, and serving the public trust by wrestling with the issues of the day and actually providing leadership, including proclaiming values based on deeply held religious beliefs.

John F. Kennedy wrote Profiles in Courage before he was President.  It is about risking unpopularity by choices made while in office.

Rebecca Hamilton is an Oklahoma legislator who has written about political pressures.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/stop-slogan-voting-stop-hate-voting-stop-being-manipulated/

We have a representative form of government which requires people whom we elect to spend time using their judgement on all sorts of issues that affect the rest of us.   Government budgets are necessary but boring.  It requires absorbing information and making decisions.  Most of us in the general public do not want to spend the time studying the issues.  We let our elected officials worry about that stuff.  We also let them take the heat after the fact.  We can criticize them with hindsight similar to that of Monday Morning Quarterbacks.  If you think that you can do a better job than Peyton Manning, show your stuff.  If you think you can do a better job than the elected legislators or governors, run for office.

Today I thank those who serve our government in many ways that I do not.

I admire those who lead rather than merely try to please.

Don’t Scare Easy

History, literature, movies, and music include many stories, some even true, about courage.   People admire courage, and should.  Americans, particularly Westerners, pride themselves on facing adversity bravely.  In Colorado, we have many examples, both fact and fiction, about mountain men, pioneers, and cowboys, who are either fearless or overcome fear, which is probably even more admirable.

Tom Petty wrote a song that was featured in the recent movie, Appaloosa.  The song is called  “Scare Easy.”  Some of the lyrics are:  “I don’t scare easy.  Don’t fall apart when I’m under the gun.  You can break my heart and I ain’t gonna run.  I don’t scare easy for no one.”

The High Park Fire in Larimer County, Colorado has been and, as I write this, is still a dangerous and destructive enemy.  We pray for the many who have lost their homes or face losing their homes, and the firefighters who have valiantly worked to protect lives and property.  These folks have demonstrated that they don’t scare easy.  God bless them!

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