Friday, February 20, 2004

Courage Unseen and Unlionized

Courage fascinates me. My heroes are usually courageous. I admire courage as a character trait. I know it's wrong to judge others, but I find myself uninterested in those who should act with courage but don't....who stand by and let wrong happen, afraid of the inconvenience or political consequences.

Courage involves action, not just words and feelings. It takes inner strength, and requires the courageous to go against conventional wisdom, popular thought, or great odds. It takes determination, often persistence, and it takes vision. Courage is rarely currency for popularity, great riches or even happiness. Courage is not the easy way out, but it's often the right way.

Courage, like kindness, most often is unseen by other people. It can be courage of convictions...courage to face a demon or disease....courage to take the right but unpopular course....courage to speak out against wrong....courage to take risks for the greater good.....courage to be merciful.

Courage came to mind when I read that 42 years ago today, 40 year old John Glenn Jr. became the first American to fly into space. His tiny Friendship 7 space capsule flew 4 hours, 56 minutes in 3 Earth orbits before splashing down in the Bahamas. Imagine the steely courage it took for any person to take that risky ride in those pre-computer, space pioneering days.

Film actor-director Mel Gibson is courageous in making "The Passion of the Christ," an unvarnished look at the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ's earthly life. The Hollywood filmmaking community is notoriously dominated by Judaism, and many are outraged at Mr. Gibson's searing and honest film. Because of the courage of his convictions, Mr. Gibson will have a difficult time finding employment again his profession.

Martin Luther King Jr. had courage, as did Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Cesar Chavez and Lech Walesa. We honor our soliders for their courage in battle. Christ's disciples and followers were certainly courageous.

I often wonder if those who are publicly lionized for their courageous actions have already received their reward here on earth. It's nice to imagine that God has a special place in His heart for all those whose acts of courage go unseen by men.

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