The Linsenblog

Physical vs Moral Courage

If you ask the average man, very likely he would say there are many kinds of courage However I believe and the Marine Corps teaches that they boil down to but two. Physical Courage, and Moral Courage.

Physical Courage is overcoming the fear of bodily injury, while Moral Courage is overcoming the fear of emotional harm or rejection from others.

Physical Courage is the one that most men will point to when puffing their chests and telling the world how brave they are. Overcoming fear of physical injury after all is present in the performance of many sports, social violence in the form of fights, and more. In no way should you take away from this writing that I am diminishing physical courage, after all, without that rare and most powerful form of this courage displayed by so many of our troops throughout the years and many wars, none of us would enjoy the lives we currently do. Physical Courage then, is profound to be sure.

Moral Courage on the other hand is a tricky business, it is sometimes so subtle that a bystander could miss it. Which can make it all the more difficult to find, since the trick about it is really to risk the pain, when very likely nobody will recognize it as courage, and still you find that you must do what is right.

Would you risk the admiration of your friends to do the right thing? The love of your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend? Would you risk friendships and trade being liked?

Would you risk your own reputation in order to do the right thing as you see it?

Hard questions to be sure. We all like to think that we can do the right thing when it matters, but when tested, how many of us fail? When questioned, how many of us seek to explain ourselves and get back what we may have lost, or undo the very good that we might have done by remaining silent and taking the pain for the highest good.

Say for example your good friend is addicted to diet pills and you are concerned for his or her safety. Knowing that if you tell someone, your friend might well never speak to you again. Are you willing to trade their friendship for his or her life?

I believe we should think about these things before they happen. We should decide ahead of time and revisit that decision often. This repetition trains us so we can act more confidently when the situation presents itself, even when in our hearts, the conflict rages, when we want so very much to take the easy road, and just be liked…

The leader will often make decisions that are unpopular, often will take actions that others will condemn. The leader must act according to his or her own moral code and stand by it even when it will cost them. This goes to the core of setting the example.

After all, what other people think of us, is really none of our business.

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