Updated: Dec 14, 2019
For many people it is rare to witness great acts of courage and bravery. For some, watching the State of Origin rugby league, X-Factor, or a viral YouTube video of strangers dragging an unconscious man out from underneath a burning car may be as close as they get to seeing courage in action.
I count myself as privileged in this regard because every day I see ordinary people like you and I initiate and enact courage. These acts aren't seen by others; they are private and deeply personal. Those involved aren't driven to achieve fame on the latest talent show, they aren't out for more money or notoriety, and they often act alone. These acts of courage are about facing difficult truths, finally feeling an emotion held at bay for years, saying what has remained unsaid, admitting that the relationship isn’t working, and finding new ways to be and relate.
Who are these emotional champions, these gladiators of the soul?* It's the men who turn up to the group, regardless of their terror, to discuss the sexual abuse they were subjected to in their youth. It's the young woman extricating herself from the tangle of her controlling family. It's the adult taking cautious steps toward a mature relationship from a lifetime without love or security. It's the teenager admitting he plays 14 hours of online multiplayer shoot-'em-up and maybe that isn't working for him. It's the ambulance officer in tears remembering a family's intolerable grief when their daughter was killed.
To you he might be the manager from Level 11 who seems a bit less angry lately, she the slightly sullen goth girl with the piercings sitting next to you on the bus, the weary-looking woman at the check-out, the quiet, beaten looking kid with the caffeine drink you occasionally see coming back from the store, or the officer calmly treating the victim of drunken fracas # 5 for the night.
We all have a story. We all have hurts and difficulties to overcome and they all take courage to face. In the end, after the fear and the uncertainty and pain, the pay-offs can feel miraculous. But it takes an initial act of bravery and courage, and probably quite a few along the way, and these are worth recognising and celebrating.
* These people and stories have been changed or are amalgamations.
NB: This blog post was originally published under the name Roger Dunphy
1. FreeImages.com/Konrad M
2. Stocksnap from Pixabay