What is Courage?

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers the fear.

Nelson Mandela

Allied troops prepare to storm the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, 74 years ago today.

My dad, who was one of those troops so many years ago, once told me that only fools are never afraid. Being afraid doesn’t make you a coward, he told me. Brave people learn to go ahead despite being terrified.

This applies to all of us, he made clear at the time, and now I can see what he meant…me dealing with trauma therapy, my friends and family who have faced cancer, my friend who was suddenly widowed when her husband died of influenza several years ago…countless painful and scary situations, that so many of us from somewhere, deep down inside, find the wherewithal to face and overcome. I think that we are, all of us, braver than we realize.

Courage is not simply having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength.

Theodore Roosevelt

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