9th June 2022
‘Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it’.
In ‘The Wizard of Oz’ four friends set off along the yellow brick road in search of particular things they feel they lack. The tin man wishes for a ticking heart in order to love; the straw man wishes for a brain in order to be intelligent; Dorothy an orphan, wants to find the home where she will belong and the lion wants to gain courage.
All believe that the Wizard of Oz will give them everything they dream of and so they set off along the yellow brick road, with great hope that their dreams will come true. However, the wizard turns out to be a fraud and the four friends are deeply disappointed until they realise they have in fact gained everything for which they had hoped.
Through a journey beset by challenges the tin man has become the best and most loving of friends with a true heart; the straw man has developed a brain for problem solving; Dorothy has recognised that there is ‘no place like home’ and it is back in Kansas with her loving family; and of course the lion has proven that he has real courage through defending his friends and triumphing over his fear.
And of course, those who have courage are not without fear but as Mandela says those who are able to ‘triumph over it’. Courage is a word best used to describe those who have overcome serious difficulties, trials and sorrows. It can also be used to describe those who have put themselves in dangerous situations.
One possible definition of it is: the quality of mind and spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger and pain.
Another definition could be: to act in accordance with one’s beliefs, especially despite criticism, and be brave enough to do what you feel is right, regardless of any pressure on you to do something different.
In other words, to have the courage of your own convictions and to act upon them. It certainly doesn’t mean you won’t feel fear, but courage is acting despite fear.
Here are just a few examples of people who have acted courageously:
Nelson Mandela ‘I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.’
Dietrich Bonhoeffer Opposed the Nazi regime in Germany, the euthanasia program and persecution of Jews.
Emily Pankhurst A suffragette who led campaigns of civil disobedience against a male-dominated political system.
Rosa Parks An American civil rights activist who started the Montgomery bus boycott by refusing to give up her seat to a white person.
William Wilberforce Slavery Abolition Bill of 1833, which became law the following year.
Mahatma Gandhi An Indian politician who struggled to bring about Indian Independence by means of non-violent protests.
These people have all had the courage of their convictions and I am sure you can think of other examples (they needn’t be famous). They have done something to change something they believed was wrong. Fortunately few of us are likely to be tested in this way but on a day to day basis as we travel down our ‘yellow brick road’ of life, hopefully we can develop the courage not to give in to fear but do the right thing and have the courage of our convictions.