Shades of Courage.

We all admire the courageous but I wonder what is the shade of courage you most admire or have observed?

We have thrilled to the action of courageous men in uniform throughout history. Men who fought with their fellows against the odds, often sacrificing themselves to save their comrades. From the ancient Greeks, through to the "Charge of the Life Brigade" and on to the Khyber Pass and Afghanistan, where British lives have been lost for a few hundred years.

There is the courage to survive being a prisoner of war living in the shadow of the cruelties and execution. I am reminded of the very young men and women, who after a few weeks of training, where dropped behind German lines in France during ww11. They carried a wireless to pass information back to Britain, the average time before they were captured was also counted in weeks.

All those who flew in gliders made of a shell of thin wood. Faced the cold of Arctic waters in ships not built for the cold. Men were taken from the streets of Britain and tossed to live and fight in deserts or jungles so strange to them. That so many found great courage in so many ways is astounding.

We will all have known someone inflicted with some horrible disease, who carries on with grace towards their end with a calm courage. Or someone born with some physical or mental handicap yet is cheerful and makes the best of what they have.

I have great admiration for the 'whistleblower'. When many around them know a wrong is being committed. Perhaps it is an authority or the person's employer or just the society the whistleblower lives amongst. This person knows the wrong and although bringing it to attention will cause that person personnel grief, they still call it out. This is lonely courage, the person exposed and vulnerable with everything to lose.

They may have to stand against friends,  family, and community that takes resolve and courage. Most governments say they will protect whistleblowers but it seems to me such people are more often than not, left hung out to dry. Medical staff who knowing Ebola, never the less treat such infected patients. Don't forget the guys who bury the dead Ebola patients, not only the danger of being infected themselves, they also have to contend with distraught relatives who want to perform traditional rituals that put them and others in great danger.

Another cold courage is one of the scientists and I am aware of the medical ones. They have a new drug, a new machine, a new theory......rather than risk others they test it on themselves. When I was a young nurse a lifetime ago, patients with stomach ulcers lived miserable lives. If in hospital they were fed a diet of creamed sweetbreads, rice pudding, poached fish etc.

Everything bland and tasteless. If very ill they had a tube inserted into the stomach and a constant drip feed of milk. Even with this, they lived with the danger of the ulcer eating through their stomach wall and then bleeding to death.  An Australian doctor had a theory that the ulcer was due to infection but he could not convince anyone to set up a trial.  First, he infected his own stomach, then he cured his own ulcer with antibiotics, all of this meticulously recorded. Now stomach ulcer patients are routinely given a long course of antibiotics to cure them. He had confidence in his theory but it was still cold courage.

Next, I suppose we ill have space explorers and that will truly be stepping into the unknown. So what variety of courage do you especially admire and why?

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  1. roseinbloom

    The courage to stand up for what you believe, and the courage to stand up for someone weaker than ourselves, I also admire people who have courage to live their life and not be chained to expectation of church or society.
    I went to the funeral of a WW2 purple heart veteran. He was forced into service, he never wanted to talk about his service. Forcing people to do something needs to be questioned. Somehow this man found the courage to live his life and he had a long and good life.
    Women’s courage have not been celebrate but it takes courage to deliver a baby and the women who marched and week jailed for women’s rights were courageous. People who courageously make a difference for other have a special courage.
    It takes courage at all stages of life and it takes courage to deal with advancing age.

  2. Rockflower Post author

    Right on, thanks for reminding me of women’s courage which is often just a matter of of keeping going under adversity. As in most things the contribution of women throughout history is most often unrecorded. The women, not only the wealthy and privileged like Emily Pankhurst but the factory working women of Manchester who joined her.They were actually tortured by the state, with brutal forced feeding when in goal. Yet they returned for more. Sad to say we have come far but their fight to change attitudes must still go on by women today.

  3. ken54

    The brave men who fought against overwhelming forces at “The Battle of Rorke’s Drift” (in Africa) is the most inspiring example of historical courage I’ve read about – as well as depicted in a movie starring Stanley Baker and Michael Caine.