Cowards can never be moral, said Mohandas Gandhi. Here is why:
People can know what is right and even want to do what is right but still not act rightly. Why? Because they are afraid. They lack the courage to support their convictions.
We need courage to face the unknown; we need courage to let go of irrational fears. We need courage to face our own death and courage to allow others to help us through difficult times. We need courage to let others in.
We need courage to be ourselves, to take responsibility for our actions, to overcome the fear of rejection and disapproval. It takes courage to openly listen to the voices of others, to admit mistakes and then do what must be done.
Courage frees us to find new and better ways of being— with others and with ourselves. The fear of letting go keeps us prisoners of our own making. The courage to face what is, to seek the truth in the reality of things, allows us to become free of groundless fear.
I like this anecdote about the philosopher and boxer:
A.J. Ayer achieved fame as an intellectual giant the field of academic philosophy. He became a celebrity of sorts, and, at 78 years old, he was invited to attend a party hosted by a well-known fashion designer. At the gathering, Ayer was talking with several of the models when a young woman ran by, crying that a friend was being assaulted in the next room.
Ayer rushed into the bedroom and found a man forcing himself upon a young woman.
Ayer ordered him to leave the woman alone.
The hulking man responded, “Do you know who I am? I’m Mike Tyson, the heavyweight champion of the world!”
Ayer quickly responded, “And I am the former Wykeham Professor of Logic.” He quickly added, “We are both pre-eminent in our field; I suggest we talk this over like rational men.”
As Tyson turned to engage Ayer, he forgot about the model, allowing her enough time to escape to the other room and safety.