Attitude Defines Altitude – 3 – Courage

Courage is a choice, a decision of working against odds, against risks, against chances of rejection. Courage is precursor to many other attributes like honesty, sincerity, uprightness, truthfulness and love. Courage is the oxygen in which all other positive attributes survive.

Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener, defines courage in his wonderful book, “The Courage Quotient: How Sciences Can Make You Braver” – “Courage is the willingness to act toward a moral and worthwhile goal despite the presence of risk, uncertainty and fear” The keyword is “Moral and Worthwhile Goal”. Courage is not just risk taking, the intent for taking risk is also very important in this definition of courage, because even a mugger or a pick pocket takes risk, to call his risk taking as “courage” would insult this great combination of action and emotion.

Biswas-Diener found that courage is made up of two processes. The first part is the willingness to take action, and the second is the ability to control fear. Developing courage is a matter of learning how to manage fear so it doesn’t prevent you from action, and of finding ways to motivate yourself to act.

Courage is like fragrance, not to be spoken about but its presence can be felt. Courage is a catalyst which brings out finest human qualities and attributes and converts one into a better human being. It converts ordinary people into extraordinary souls, triumphing in harshest of environment. Courage grants you with extraordinary strength to unwaveringly do the right thing in the face of formidable dangers. Reward of courage is immense satisfaction of standing by what was right and as bonus it wins you universal respect.

Courage is an emotion which is rooted in belief, and it’s a belief which is rooted in emotion. Courage is like cotyledon hidden inside the seed. It’s a whole tree hidden inside the tiny seed. When the conditions desire; courage appears to protect and to support all the attributes. There are many real life examples, stories demonstrating various shades of courage. Courage is demonstrated by Company Quartermaster Havildar Abdul Hamid, PVC. He was a soldier in the 4th Battalion, The Grenadiers of the Indian Army, who attained martyrdom in the Khem Karan sector during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 in the Battle of Asal Uttar, and was the posthumous recipient of the Republic of India’s highest military decoration, the Param Vir Chakra. On 10 September 1965 at 0800 hours, a battalion of Pakistani armor supported by Patton tanks attacked the 4th Grenadier positions but was unable to locate the battalion’s defenses. The attack preceded by intense artillery bombardment to soften the target and to garner a heavy fire in an attempt to draw Indian response. By 0900 hours, the enemy tanks had penetrated the forward company positions. In the melee, Hamid saw a group of Pattons heading towards his battalion defenses. Seeing the gravity of the situation, he moved out to a flank with his gun mounted on a jeep. Intense enemy shelling and tank fire did not deter him. He fired continuously knocking out three Pattons one after another but was killed by tank fire from the fourth before he could engage it. The courage demonstrated by Abdul Hamid and many martyrs in many wars across the globe is born out of feeling of patriotism, and being guardian to the honor of the country.

In a 1997 film “Life is Beautiful”, Italian Film actor, director, writer Roberto Benigni tells a beautiful story of the courage of a loving father and husband, who while being in a concentration camp, saves his wife and son from dying and sacrifices his life. The amazing story showcases the power of love and how it becomes the foundation of courage demonstrated by the father.

The noted poetess Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, describes the courage and valor demonstrated by Rani of Jhansi, who fought the British forces with her young son tied on her back.

इनकी गाथा छोड़, चले हम झाँसी के मैदानों में,
जहाँ खड़ी है लक्ष्मीबाई मर्द बनी मर्दानों में,
लेफ्टिनेंट वाकर आ पहुँचा, आगे बड़ा जवानों में,
रानी ने तलवार खींच ली, हुया द्वन्द्ध असमानों में।
ज़ख्मी होकर वाकर भागा, उसे अजब हैरानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी

The reward of courage is satisfaction and feeling of positivity. Dr. Biswas-Diener elaborates why courage matters – “Of all our basic virtues, courage is the one that helps us to live exactly the way we want and provides the psychological fuel we need to create, take risks, help others, and face hard times. I am not overstating the case when I say that courageous action is humanity at its finest”

जाओ रानी याद रखेंगे ये कृतज्ञ भारतवासी,
यह तेरा बलिदान जगावेगा स्वतंत्रता अविनासी,
होवे चुप इतिहास, लगे सच्चाई को चाहे फाँसी,
हो मदमाती विजय, मिटा दे गोलों से चाहे झाँसी।
तेरा स्मारक तू ही होगी, तू खुद अमिट निशानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी

American poet Maya Angelou expresses – “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage”

We don’t need to become Jhansi ki Rani or Abdul Hamid, in normal day to day life; such extreme situations generally don’t come. But, the opportunity to practice courage and nourish other virtues is always there. Taking ownership, responsibility, accepting mistake, apologizing, standing up for someone who can’t stand for himself. Speaking up for someone who cannot speak for himself, are opportunities to practice courage and make it part of your attribute. An attribute, that is very significant in defining your altitude.

Contributed by

Mr. K.K. Bajpai
Associate Professor
SMS Varanasi


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