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July 30, 2020 / Congau


Facing danger without trembling, that is more than courage and more than fearlessness. Even the bravest of us will have a corporal reaction when in peril. It is just a recognition of the threat and does not reveal a person’s ability to meet what is coming. In fact, a recognition of danger is necessary before anyone can be called brave, for a failure to understand is hardly deserving of praise.

But could there be someone among us, a stoic sage perhaps, a saintly character who has reach such a level of virtue that he has eliminated even the possibility of danger to his own person? Probably not. Still, one can always theorize about an image of perfection and construct ideals that might function as a remote light that can be approached although never reached. The question then becomes if it is at all desirable to erase the sense of danger from one’s mind.

A wholly indifferent and lethargic person who had given up on life could maybe achieve such a thing, but there is nothing admirable about such a condition. Our imaginary guru could not be a councilor of life if he had given it up. Instead he must be both fully in life and detached from the world and its unpredictability. Anything can happen and the accomplished stoic would accept it and understand it with both his soul and body and therefore be intrepid in the face of anything, since for him a danger does not exist. Is he then brave?

On the other end of the scale we find the poor wretch who imagines dangers everywhere. But although he lacks realism and insight, he is not necessarily a coward. He trembles when encountering a spider and sees dreadful monsters where others see nothing, but he confronts his fears and stands the ground.  He is as far from intrepidity as anyone can be, but he is brave.


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