Courage: The First Rung on the Ladder

Last night, I was reading before bed and they had a series of quotes from Maya Angelou, some of which I had never read before. This one struck me particularly and I shared it on my personal Facebook page before I headed off to bed with the added comment of “Have courage and be kind”.


It set me to thinking. I would usually be one to say that love is the greatest virtue BUT, the more I thought about it, the more I agree along similar lines of Ms. Angelou’s quote. Without stepping out in courage, how can we show love? Without courage, how can we choose to be kind to strangers? Without courage, how can we champion justice? Without courage, how can we face hardships and challenges in order to be the best version of ourselves that we can be?

Courage is not merely running into the face of danger. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is having an absolutely awful day but being willing to listen to someone else’s awful day and determining to try your best again tomorrow. Courage is saying “hello” to someone who is grieving, even if you might not know what else to say to them. Courage is letting someone know you are thinking about them, even if you know you might not hear back from them. Courage is facing that classroom full of students, each with large and individual needs, and doing your absolute best for the benefit of their education. Courage is showing love in the midst of anger, grace in the midst of hurt, kindness in the midst of strife, integrity in a world of rationalization and dishonesty, and compassion when surrounded by indifference.

Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All admirable, all life-giving. But I think that almost any and every virtue we can practice or demonstrate starts with this: the courage to step out and say, “I will.”

I will try again tomorrow.

I will take a breath before I respond.

I will listen instead of talk.

I will say hello even though it is hard.

I will give.

I will help.

I will be there.

I will admit I was wrong.

I will do my best to make it right.

I will show love, have courage, and be kind.


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