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 [kindness, truth, and generosity] erratically, but nothing consistently without courage. -Maya Angelou

What Does Courage Look Like?

Courage means the ability to do something even though it frightens the heck out of you. It may scare you to death, but you do it anyway, like bungee jumping, asking someone on a date, or public speaking. Courage also means to give strength in the face of difficult times such as grief or pain. For example, rather than bottling your emotions, you muster up the courage to mourn when a loved one or a pet dies. Another example is lending an ear to someone experiencing pain.

Most Important Virtue

Maya Angelou stated, courage is the most important virtue. For this to be true, then even kindness, generosity, honesty, and mercy must be acted upon with courage. I never really considered this before. I mean, courage to me meant you put on armor to tackle an obstacle of some sort. I couldn’t see how you’d need to dress in armor or courage to be generous, merciful, and kind. After some thinking, I began to see it another way.

Courage to Be Kind

Let me explain. How many of you truly love to be generous, merciful, and kind? I’m thinking we’ll all put up our hand. But, then I ask, how often do you act on these three virtues? What holds you back? Everyday, we put on masks to show up in the world. These masks are the rules and behaviors that are considered acceptable in our society. We follow the other so we don’t get condemned or sneered at.  We help when the majority helps. We ignore when the rest ignores. For instance, how many times did you bypass the homeless person begging for food or money? Hundreds of people walk by and do nothing and the many that follow after do the same.

Courage Is Love

Maybe what we need is for others to step out of the box of conforming to the social norms and begin acting with courage to be more kind, generous, and merciful. I have another suggestion, however. What if we look at courage as being love instead of armor. If we acted out of love, to be courageous, the task may be easier. We stop thinking about our self and we begin to think of serving the other person. What’s also really cool is that when we act out of love, we go into presence, we lose sight of all the people around us, and we move into oneness with the other.

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