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What Does It Take to Be a Person of Courage?

We don’t have to be among the powerful and mighty to commit a courageous act.

Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama
Credit: Bettmann Archive

Most of us want to be a person of courage. Too often we think that it’s only those in high and important positions who can truly practice it, but each day offers us a chance. Poet Maya Angelou said, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

Courage is the strength to do something even if you are afraid. To stand up against the opposition even when you are the only one. To do what is right even if the consequences are severe. 

Courage is what an ordinary woman, Rosa Parks, displayed in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. Her courage and subsequent arrest launched the Montgomery bus boycott and became an historical moment in the civil rights movement. While most of us might not find ourselves in a position like Rosa Parks—we can all be strong and courageous in the face of life’s pressing circumstances.   

For example, I will never forget the courage of a young mother I prayed with in the hospital. She was battling terminal cancer and refused to give up for the sake of her small children. She fought hard until the end.

Or, at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in New York, my friend, a nurse who pushed through her fears to care for the infected. Every day she stepped into the danger zone where patients struggled to live.

And then there was the small business owner I knew who became depressed and had a hard time managing his business. But every day he found the courage to get up from his bed, pray and read his handwritten note listing all the good things in his life. 

Author Mary Anne Rademacher writes, “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” 

When all is said and done, each of us can be a person of courage—now more than ever.

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