Cowardice (a.k.a lack of bravery). Hmmm…these, or us, WordPress people certainly come up with some doozies, don’t they/we? Maybe I am too cowardly to write about today’s topic? Nahhh…maybe not. Afterall, it’s me…Sue. I like a challenge, and I also like to ‘jibber jabber’. And, I could probably elaborate more on being cowardly while writing about cowardice, just because. But, I will give it a bit more thought than that. Just to prove that I am not cowardly:-). Let’s see where this one goes.
Can’t say cowardice is a word that I’ve given much thought to, though when I hear it I immediately think of one who is fearful, and I have certainly had my fair share of fears or fearful situations over the years. Some superficial, some not. Fear is usually associated with the unknown, but it also can be correlated with experiences which have previously caused us pain, physically or otherwise, and so we avoid them as a result. ‘Spidey senses’, as sometimes referred to, can be a good thing and help to keep us safe, kind of like following one’s intuition; other times, they hold us back. We’ve all experienced both at some point in our lives, I would say and usually we know the truth of why we behave the way we do, even if we tell ourselves stories to the contrary. In the sense that I speak of, I think cowardice is just part of being human. I don’t view it as a negative thing necessarily. Unless it is so intense that you refuse to do anything. I mean, to have a phobia or phobias is one thing, but to stay shut in behind four walls would be a whole other. Sadly, for some people, especially those with specific forms of mental illness, that is their reality. It is something we, as a society, should really pay more attention to, but we don’t. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe we are too cowardly? With mental health stats rising, especially amongst young ones (suicide rates included) along with addictions, we’ve heard healthcare workers admit that they simply cannot keep up. All that they can do is ‘band-aid’ the situations, rather than act in advance because they are stretched to the limit manpower and resource-wise. I wish our governments would smarten up a little, but Lord, we’d be here forever if I delved into that discussion, and I am not too much of a coward to admit that I am simply not informed enough to go on. I’m just a concerned citizen who is an onlooker to it all, but also one who knows and has known people on both sides of the coin–mental health sufferers and healthcare workers. (Gee, this has turned into a much heavier post, than I first intended…guess that’s the thing about writing. You just never know where you’ll end up if you are true to yourself and your thoughts.) While I wish I had the much needed answers for everything that could and should be changed in our world, I don’t. But, I do have a voice, as do you. That counts for something, doesn’t it?
On a separate, but related side to this post, I will tell you that in my opinion, true cowardice is when one does not face their truth or accept responsibility for their actions. You know, the whole ‘place blame elsewhere’ bit, which seems to be becoming more and more prevalent in this day and age of anonymity, thanks in huge part to social media. Now, once again, I’m sure that we can all of think of a time or two or three when not accepting responsibility has been the case for ourselves. To me, it’s whether or not we learn from it, apologize, move forward, try to make amends, etc. that shows real bravery. I think we are all more forgiving with each other, when we ‘fess up’, so to speak. I know that I have way more respect for a person when they make a mistake, own up to it, and try to do something about it rather than escape, avoid or lie about it. Let’s face it…most people’s hurts which are buried in others, have to do with the lack of acknowledgement in one’s part in creating the hurt. How many times have you heard someone say, ‘I just want him/her to say sorry and mean it. I don’t want them to make it better–they can’t, what’s done is done–I just want my voice to be heard, my hurt to be recognized’? Forgiveness isn’t about being right or wrong, it’s about being valued as a person.
I work with children daily. I have learned as much from them as they have from me over the years (well hopefully, anyway;-). One thing I work vehemently on, because I believe in it so, is to teach the kids to use their voice, to ask for and give apologies when needed, and to say in return, “I accept your apology” if, in fact they do, rather than saying, “That’s okay”. I always tell them, “It’s not okay that someone hurt you and you don’t have to accept their apology,” but the offender in the situation needs to accept that as a consequence of their actions and they still need to be courageous enough to put the words out there. I think as adults, that is a valuable lesson too and that we should apply this same simple, yet effective principle in our own very complicated grown-up lives, yet we often don’t. Is it a pride thing? A need to be right? Low self-esteem within? I’d venture to say the latter, if you get down to it in looking at how we treat others. If we feel good about who we are as a person and are confident on the inside, it shows outwardly and our words and our actions are a reflection of that, and of those with whom we surround ourselves. That sense of self-confidence allows us to expose our vulnerabilities more easily, thereby making us more likely to admit wrongdoings. No one expects you to be perfect, unless you do. We are all here just trying to make our way through this life and mistakes are all part of this journey. Bravery, aka the lack of cowardice, comes from you valuing you and allowing others to be valued in the same light.