Lions attract a lot of attention because they’re powerful and dangerous. We appreciate people who are powerful and dangerous. We envy them because isn’t that what courage looks like? But really they’re all show. They don’t really risk anything but their pride.
When I think of courage, I first think of a lion—roaring and rearing on its back legs ready to spring onto its prey with the sun glistening on its haunches, increasing its majesty. But if I’m honest with my own experience, I’m forced to ask how courageous is it to fight a battle you know you’re going to win? A lion is meant to hunt and is well equipped to tear its prey into bite-sized pieces. Frequently, the worst it has to face is the loss of a meal. What fear does it have to overcome? It can take naps in the middle of the savannah without having to look over its shoulder. Sometimes lions do fight other lions, but I’m pretty sure they both think they’re going to win.
Maybe when we think of courage we should think of a mouse. Mice are considered a favorite meal or snack for predators of various sizes—all of them much larger than they are. But I notice there are still a lot of mice around. They are very good at surviving. They still crawl out of their holes and forage for food everyday, knowing it could very well cost them their lives—so they run fast, squeeze through the smallest cracks, and hide. These aren’t usually what we’d consider acts of bravery, but I’ve seen a terrified mouse last against a cat far longer than it had any right to, solely because it refused to stop fighting for its life. And sometimes they escape to live another day and put food on the table. The odds are against them, but they keep going, even as they carry their fear with them.
Courage is fighting through another day when the odds are stacked against you, especially when it hurts. It’s doing the one thing that is hard or scary but will improve life for you or someone else. Courage is doing the right thing when it’s easier to do nothing at all. It’s swimming against the current when it could kill you, but the reward is worth it. There are courageous people all around us but we don’t see them because they’re scurrying around the edges just trying to survive.
Photo Credit: Alice