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In modern English, there are many words with a deep meaning that are sometimes used without proper thinking. Courage can be listed among such words because in some cases, it is applied to individuals who engage in risky behaviors that are not related to worthy goals and beliefs. This essay argues that courage is the ability to overcome fears and doubts to do something necessary and meaningful that can have different situation-specific sources.
To describe the meaning of the word courage, it is possible to summarize different people’s experiences related to this concept. This strategy allows understanding any word in the context of dissimilar situations taking place in real life, thus adding depth to the analysis. In general, having courage can be understood as demonstrating an ability to stay strong in any circumstances. However, particular verbal subtleties associated with the term may vary depending on specific cases.
In his work devoted to psychological health issues and mental suffering associated with schizoaffective disorder, Colori provides an interesting definition of the term in question (703). It encapsulates both common understandings of being courageous and the context-specific meaning of the word associated with the social burden of mental illnesses (Colori 703). Presenting the memories about the worst periods of his disease and living a life that was very “dark” and empty, Colori defines courage as “the ability to face something that can potentially be damaging,” which aligns with the term’s common definitions (704). However, to make his thoughts more specific, the author adds that courage is something that “always has a source,” and he knows it since his courage was fuelled by his faith in a better future (Colori 704).
Personally, I totally agree with the point about having a source, and from my experience, the sources of courage and mental strength are not permanent and universal. For instance, when I was about six years old, I managed to protect my younger friends from a bully who was four years my senior, and my parents said that I had the courage to stand up for others despite my young age.
As a child, I did not think about such terms and their meanings, but now, this example helps me to realize that courage can be understood as an ability to overcome fear and take steps that are the most appropriate from a moral standpoint. As a mentally ill person, Colori drew courage from his aspirations for a better life, whereas in my case, I had to conquer my fear because there was nobody else to protect the youngest children (704). Based on that, the comprehensive definition of courage should explain that it can have case-specific sources.
Applying the method of comparison and contrast is another way to better understand the term. The word courage has a variety of synonyms, the majority of which refer to personality traits that people usually mention in a positive context. Since it relates to the ability to do something despite fear, doubts, and even threats, the discussed term is close in meaning to bravery, audaciousness, manfulness, fortitude, and similar nouns.
These words are among the first associations with courage, and the fact that all of them are typically used to characterize a person or an action in a positive way allows making conclusions about the perceptions of the term in question. Although the listed words can also be used in ironic jokes to highlight some individuals’ lack of mental strength, the term being discussed encourages people to think about something that can save the world.
There are also numerous words that convey the opposite meaning, thus highlighting positive associations with the term being analyzed. The word courage is drastically different from such terms as cowardice, timidity, or faint-heartedness. All of them can be used to describe people who do not have enough internal resources to overcome fear and do something necessary but dangerous. However, it needs to be said that some concepts are mistakenly regarded as being close in meaning.
For instance, in some contexts, courage can be associated with recklessness, and their meanings seem to be quite similar if no attention is paid to such components as the key motivating factor. In their work, Gukiina et al. cite Shelp’s definition of courage, according to which it can be understood as “the ability to act meaningfully” despite fear and associated threats (20). The degree to which actions are meaningful presents the key detail explaining the difference between courage and its quasi-synonyms. To some extent, both recklessness and courage involve looking away from the dangerous consequences of certain actions, but only the latter is related to justified risks and the presence of higher purposes.
To sum it up, courage can be understood as a person’s ability to master fear and doubts to fulfill a meaningful goal and take risks that will pay off and lead to positive changes. Also, it needs to be recognized that courage can have different sources depending on particular situations. These sources can range from people’s willingness to cope with mental health issues and return to normal life to the urgent need to defend those who cannot stand up for themselves for some reason.
Colori, Steve. “Fear, Faith, Hope, and Courage.” Schizophrenia Bulletin, vol. 44, no. 4, 2016, pp. 703-705.
Gukiina, Joshua, et al. “Organizational Virtuousness: The Customers Perspective.” International Journal on Customer Relations, vol. 5, no. 2, 2017, pp. 18-36.