Courage: A reflection


Dreaming of a motorbike
Image by magical-world via Flickr


Few days ago, I saw a very interesting view while I was driving to my work. A young girl, probably ten years old at most, drove a motorbike with a younger boy around the age of five. I was saying to myself: “WTF? These kids are crazy! Is this a crappy circus? Where the heck is their parents?”

Then, I just somewhat felt shocked by what I’ve witnessed. Few hours later, I recalled that morning shocking scenery, and that just made me feel clumsy. Why? I said to my self at that time: “Look at me! I was so worked up with those so-called crazy kids, while they were just riding the motorbike with nothing but joy”. They were OK, and obviously fine. Set aside their age, the older sister drove in skills, and carried his little brother with no accidents……

The fact is, I was so full with my lawful and psychologically appropriate thoughts. I was so full of myself, and not letting them tell me how such “courageous” act was possible 🙂

Courage defines what is possible for us. The more courageous we are, the more likely we will see more possibilities. The trick is in the possibility of what could be possible. Sounds weird, right? But that’s it. Possibility is what we make out of it. This sometimes I found as ironic. Why? Because for people who live in modern urban world, there are too much things around tell us what to do and help us how to do. We just do things we believe we should normally do. We do them in ways  that are already provided for us. We take lots of things for granted. It seems, we live in a world where we do not have to risk almost anything….

I live in Surabaya, Indonesia, where risks are quite well distributed :-)…….and I already have this sort of feelings. What about advance cities with complete welfare facilities with the impression of almost no risk?

I”m in enigma. Is it true that our modern world has cut lots of risk in our life through our amazing sciences and technologies? Have we succeed to make our life better and less risky through our effective laws and decisions? Does social sciences provide us a better world? Does technology creates a better planet to live in? Does economic sciences reduce poverty? Does psychology provides us with better well-being?

Yes, we are making advances in many aspects. But, we stress more in life, we find new diseases, and we create new problems. Yes, that’s life, and I agree. Nevertheless, there is something that is essentially reducing: Our courage.

Perhaps, too many solutions are provided and too many facilities are ready to be utilized. Perhaps, too many sciences to find answers from, and too many rules to assure things are safe. All were made to create the perception of civility and welfare inside our mind. All were made to tell us that we don’t have to inconveniently struggle for what best. All we do need is just follow things passively, and everything will fall in place. We just need to believe that everything will be ‘just right’.

Nothing wrong with those, except that we are learning to omit things that is not according to what is ‘just right’. In my case, I saw the little girl drove a motorbike through “the spectacle of impossibility and inappropriateness”. I forgot that I was already drove my car when I was around 11 years old. I’ve learned to see and perceive things according to ‘the theory about what is possible and save according to age’. A learning that clouds myself from what I’ve experienced about what is safe and possible. A learning that has limit me of what is possible, a learning that made me less courageous.

Our thoughts about what to do and what not may imprison us. It will give us an easy way to focus and a sense of certainty; and it will cut alternatives. As much as it may sound good, it is also difficult to deny that our thoughts constraint us. Some people says that less thinking will make you dare to do more things. That’s why dumb and stupid people do more amazing things than clever one. I say that there is a frame we need to be well aware in those statements. The absolute tendency to generalize and associate courage with stupidity is obviously a fallacy. Why? Because that’s not how we live.

We live to embrace risk in life, and risk is just a hard evidence of possibility. If there is no risk, than obviously there is no possibility. In order to embrace the risk, we try to make sense of our life through our thoughts and feeling. Through those thoughts and feelings, we struggle to be courageous to use the possibility and tackle the risk. It is through courage, we create possibilities for ourselves. But now, I wonder, have our thoughts and feelings put us as prisoners of heaven? Do our advance life science and facilities lead us to less courage for life?

Perhaps, instead of solutions, we need more courage in life……

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

2 thoughts on “Courage: A reflection

  1. nice point.

    Nietzsche once wrote, “build your house at the side of a ravine”. He asked us to embrace the contingency of life, the risk of life itself. He also asked us to give up the hope of heaven and order, especially the one offered by religion and modern society with its laws and sciences. He asked us to kick our own limitation, and go beyond human, namely to become super-man who embraces life with its fullest joy and risks, and then die in the process.

    However, we also have to pay attention to Confucius teaching concerning courage. We need to develop a proper courage, not less because it is a coward behavior, not excessive because it will lead to destructive behavior. I think we can gather insight from these two thinkers concerning what is mean to be a human, and what we must do in life, namely to go “beyond human” with proper attitude based on context.

    1. I think both perspectives build up the dinamic balance of life. Understanding this balance help us to see what it means to have courage out of virtue and understanding, not anger and ignorance 😉

      However, sometimes we might see ‘proper’ as a measure according to the existing social construction; a contruction planted by others in our framework. This sometimes limit us to gain wisdom from within ourselves, such as courage to change by behaving in dissent toward popular trend.

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