What It Means To Be Brave
It’s so easy to judge the actions of others from the back seat or from behind our computers. It’s so easy to sit on our high horse, ultimately deciding what we think others “should” be doing or how they “should” be behaving. But what’s not always easy is displaying empathy and turning the lens on ourselves in order to determine if we would actually do things any differently if placed in the same positions or conditions as those whom we judge.
What we need to acknowledge is that bravery does not always mean doing the generically defined “right” thing. Instead, bravery can sometimes mean realizing the hard choices that we have to make and recognizing our shadow side as we make them, even though we know that we can ultimately do better. Bravery can certainly be defined as taking bold "right" actions in spite of the potential consequences. But, on the flip side, bravery can also mean acknowledging our position as it stands knowing that, in the moment, we are simply doing the best that we can.
Moreover, we need to admit the diversity of character that exists within humanity at large, for what might seem an easy choice for one, can be the hardest thing to do for another. We are not all the same and so our choices and behaviors will not always be the same either. Therefore, to impose our own standards of behavior onto others based solely on our own perspectives of morality and “right” action, at the very least, is quite unfair. To expect others to be as brave as we perceive ourselves to be based on our personal value systems and inherent characteristics is, in fact, not only unfair, it is also quite narrow-sighted.
One of the bravest things one could confess to oneself is one’s perceived limitations. That’s because bravery does not only come from the willingness to take "right" action at all costs. Bravery also means being able to acknowledge our perceived weaknesses and take the best action we feel that we can muster in the moment, but with the intention of eventually evolving into something greater.
We’d all like to think that we would take the high road no matter what. But it’s a lot easier to say that “hypothetically” than to actually be faced with that choice head on. It’s easy to judge ourselves as righteous when we haven’t actually been presented with the opportunity to display that “truth.” For something “in theory” doesn’t always tell us the truth of who we really are. Instead, it can be a projection of who we would like ourselves to be, even if that’s really just an illusion or even a lie that we keep telling ourselves.
There is a lot of polarization occurring right now in the world of what it means to be “right” versus “wrong,” “good” versus “bad.” Different groups will tell you different things on what they believe it means to be a “good person.” But, at the end of the day, no one can decide for you what that definition really means. In fact, that definition for you will simply have to come down to how you feel about yourself. Because only you can decide your personal definition of righteousness and bravery. Otherwise you will be acting disingenuous at best, and self-loathing at worst. And nothing truly brave can come of either.