from Aydin Ural

One of the latest entries into the thinkingomm made me think about bravery vs courage… again. I’m not a linguistic expert but there is a profound difference in the meaning of these two words that are sometimes used interchangeably.

Bravery (to me) is the lack of fear, being scared of nothing.

It is a state of almost craziness, of being unhinged, like the medieval soldiers attacking an army ten times their size (remember the movie Braveheart? Yeah! That is the spirit of “brave”, and Mel Gibson was great casting for that role!)

Courage is different; a courageous person knows fear, conceives a danger and recognizes it as something to be feared of, yet DECIDES to go towards it, controlling his/her fear, for the prize once that danger is overcome.

The courageous person is not crazy or unhinged, on the contrary, so perfectly sound and sane that he/she can overcome the fear, he/she is conscious and observant to minimize the risks without making assumptions! And that is what a good biker does!

And also that is why Plato included courage, not bravery, in one of the four virtues of a man…

Yet, people love and praise bravery! Maybe because they love sentimental things, maybe because we live in the era of entertainment. But I know that this “love of sentimentalism” is not healthy. I remember the times the Red Khmers of Cambodia were called “romantic revolutionists”; for they were talking and then implementing about a Year Zero, i.e., all the history of a nation, all the culture, all the memory to be erased, all the institutions, schools, hospitals, universities to be shut down and destroyed). As the info in brackets reveals an illogical, stupid and rather cruel ideology, so was that of Red Khmers, who happened to be the most ruthless and barbaric militants of their times, yet they were inconceivably brave…

Bravery is perhaps nice to have in books and movies, but certainly not in real life, in particular not in riding!

(Paolo Volpara comment) Dear Aydin, many thanks for your note . Just a first reaction to engage your thinking on the subject. It may be possible that courage and bravery are split just by the awareness of the self.

If you conceive yourself as the centre, self-produced, master of destiny and unique value, then when facing fear the only answer is to run away or to show bravery. If you consider yourself as the brother of humanity, created by God, depending on others, then facing fear the serving impulse comes into action and we call it courage.

One has charity/love, the brave has only greed and pride. Let’s think while is free