PHIL 201: Professor Dorbolo
Philosophical Analysis Paper
Courage: There’s A Lion Inside Everyone!
There are many concepts that apply to my life. Some examples include dedication in everything that I do; honesty when I make a mistake, forgiveness in myself and others; confidence in my morals and values, and playfulness when laughing along with my family. Yet, out of all the philosophical concepts in the world, I realized that courage is of great importance to me. I want to expand on the philosophical concept of courage by looking back at my past experiences and becoming conscious of the courage within me today. I will explore the philosophical meaning of courage, the attributes that make the concept of courage, and if a person can truly lack courage.
I was a gymnast for seven years before retiring from the sport at the age of 11. As a level 10 gymnast, I was fierce, strong, graceful, confident, hard-working, and dedicated to the sport I loved dearly – all of which are considered strengths in character. I did multiple flips in a row on a 4-inch beam, double backflips in the air and landed with my feet on the ground and swung around 8-foot-high bars while preforming different tricks. That being said, I could have never done gymnastics without my strong sense of courage. I faced dangerous skills, conquered unlikely situations, defied gravity, and challenged those jitters that stood in my way to reach my dreams and goals. I had what some would consider “grit” meaning I had not only strength in character as described earlier, I had resolve and courage.
What is the true meaning of courage then? One might suggest that courage is when a solider is willing to risk his life for the country he loves. Yet, what happens when that solider flees from his post to be with his wife and children? Is he considered a cowered and does he lack courage? I do not think so. For when that solider flees from his post he has knowledge of fear. He is courageous because his fear of not being with his wife and children is great, and he is being courageous by going back to them. In that sense, is it possible to not have any courage at all? In my opinion, courage is an action that creeps into every person’s life at some point whether that person is conscious of it or not. Fear is very natural and therefore, when someone who is knowledgeable of fear and then chooses to act upon their feeling of fear is being courageous.
Someone might argue, “Well, Beth lacks courage because she couldn’t face the pain she felt after each time she fell off her skateboard.” Other might say, “Shawn lacks courage because he didn’t get rid of his shyness.” However, I persuade you to look deeper into these examples of individuals lacking courage. When Beth decided that she was not going to continue to be in pain, she was being courageous by choosing to do what was best for her body and life. Shawn is a shy person and therefore he is being courageous every time he has a conversation with a person. I do not think that courage is a talent or something that is learned. Rather, I believe that courage comes within a person’s soul. It is the spirit that gives the person the ability to face difficult situations, danger, and pain. It is the spirit that allows one to persevere or maintain steadfastness despite difficult or delay in achieving success.
Many make the assumption that courage is a synonym for the word fearless. To me, this is not the case. Fear is a natural emotion expressed by humans at some point in their lives. It keeps us safe and protects us from the dangers that lie ahead. To be fearless, you must feel no sense of fear what so ever. Did I throw myself into the air head first without any fear at all like it was no big deal? Or, did I get butterflies in my stomach every time I tried a new skill that put my life at risk? The answer is clear. I definitely got butterflies in my stomach and felt the concept of fear crawling up my neck like some wicked spider ready to attack its prey. Does this make me any less courageous? Absolutely not! In fact, I believe that fear is the only way one can be courageous.
I like to relate complex concepts to more easily understandable aspects of life. Here, I relate the concept of courage to a cake. There are several ingredients that make a cake a delicious dessert just like there are several elements that make up the concept of courage:
Flour is one of the first ingredients that one needs to make a cake. Self-confidence makes one believe in themselves and starts to make one accept that courage is possible. This is similar to the way flour makes a baker believe that making a cake is possible. For example, by believing I could do a double backflip on the floor even when I was nervous, I was starting the process that makes courage a concept.
The eggs and butter in a cake hold all the other ingredients together. Without butter and eggs, a cake would be a crumbly mess. In order to hold courage together, one needs wisdom and fear. Wisdom allows one to acknowledge the important aspect of fear and choose to push through it. Without my ability to be wise and accept that I was afraid to try a new skill, then the other elements that make courage possible would have crumbled to bits.
Sugar and vanilla add sweetness and flavor and puts the finishing touches on a cake. Compassion and conviction are like these ingredients as they put the finishing touches on courage. Compassion is like sugar because it adds sweetness to life and puts other’s needs ahead of their own. When I helped my other teammates achieve their goals and new skills, I was being compassionate, and it takes compassion to have the courage.
Conviction is like vanilla in that it spices things up when a person shares their personal beliefs, morals, and values. Conviction allows a person to have the courage to stand up for what they believe in when others may doubt that person’s beliefs. When I felt I was not quite ready to try a new skill on the hard floor, then I had the conviction to let my coach know and ask if I could continue practicing on a softer mat.
Milk has the ability to make a cake tender and moist. Patience also has the ability to make courage tender and more appreciative. When I fell off the beam multiple times trying a new skill, it took patience to not give up right away, believe in myself, and try again.
Lastly, baking powder starts a chemical reaction that makes a cake rise. Similar to the way baking powder starts the reaction in a cake, courageous people put their thoughts into action which allows them to rise up and reach their goals and dreams. If I just thought that I could land on my feet after doing a tumbling pass, or just thought I could catch the bars after letting them go and flipping, then no courageous act would have taken place.
I believe that the concept of courage still rests in my hands today. I have the courage to go out of my way to help others that need it; the courage to step onto the starting blocks at a swim meet; the courage to stand up for what I believe in when other’s challenge my morals and values; and the courage to be the person that I am so very proud of. With courage, we are mastering our emotions which allows a person to gain new experience and self-confidence. With courage, we are allowed to discover our passions even in times of struggling. With courage, we learn to work hard, set goals, and persevere through tough times. I think that everyone has the potential to be courageous. If a person chooses to mix self-confidence, wisdom, fear, compassion, conviction, patience, and the ability to act together thoroughly, they will instantaneously make a masterful cake of courage!