After reading a post on another blogger's site, Space of Reality , I began to analyze my own definition and interpretation of the words courageous and fearless. Instead of defining the terms for you, I would rather give you specific examples that better explain what those words do and do not mean to me.
Fearless and courageous people risk their lives to save others without regard for their own safety. They save others not for the glory or the fame, for if they are "truly" fearless and brave, they do it because they believe it is what they are meant to do. Several of my students and friends fall in this category. They are policemen, firefighters and soldiers, men and women, who protect my streets, my home and my country.
Brave and valiant people do not risk their lives or their livelihood by endangering themselves or the people around them needlessly. Reckless behavior that leads to a disregard for human life by no means represents strength. Quite the contrary, I believe it shows weakness, insensitivity and lack of understanding for the needs of others. Speeding down a highway on a motorcycle going 120 miles an hour does not represent bravery. It represents a total disregard for life without an ultimate goal in mind unless suicide is your mission.
When I write about courage, bravery and fearlessness, I don't refer to people who bungee jump off of bridges, drag race on the streets for fun, or say outrageously offensive things to hurt or demean others. I refer, instead, to the people who try to live with dignity, integrity and honor everyday, to people who want to raise healthy families or struggle to succeed and triumph against the odds, for instance, someone like my friend from Vietnam who I met about 6 or 7 years ago. Perhaps we have grown close because we share similar beliefs or because we feel something and see something in each other. I know I do. From the moment I met her, I observed her eyes, her kindness and care. What impressed me most was her patience. Year after year I noticed she worked 10 hour days, everyday except Sundays and for a long time took no vacation. Although her English was not bad, it was evident that she learned the language as an adult. I don't know her entire story, nor would I ask. I do know how much she has struggled to establish her business and provide a loving home for her children, and she has done this with great integrity and love. This petite middle-aged woman exemplifies true courage. I am honored to be her friend.
Brave was a former student of mine, named Edith, a single parent, who worked full time 12-16 hours during the evening cleaning bed pans in a hospital while she went to school during the day to become a nurse and never, and I mean never, missed a class. When I asked her how did she find time to sleep and rest, she said she slept very little because she had much to accomplish. I have met countless students like Edith who have sacrificed themselves for a greater good, for a future of success and glory. Their thirst for prosperity and for independence was greater than any immediate need for gratification. They skipped the parties, the movies or the malls while they focused on creating a solid foundation for themselves and the ones they loved.
So if you are fearless does that mean you have no fear of "anything?" No...I believe everyone is afraid of something or someone. What we cannot be is afraid of too much all the time, and we have to learn to harness the fear and use it as the fuel for our lives. I refuse to allow fear to possess me. Fear does not own me or rule me. It does not dictate my actions and this I affirm. To think, otherwise, would only mean surrendering to the enemy, and that I will not do. So, yes. This blog is about courageous and inspiring people I have known or recently met. For me, they are fearless because they are warriors in the best sense of the word.