I believe in the power of courage – the courage to extend beyond oneself, to try new things and explore new ideas, options and viewpoints. Courage, which is known in other forms as fortitude and bravery, is also the ability to confront danger, fear, pain, or uncertainty. Over time, I’ve realized that there are limits to what I can understand and what I can control, and I continue to enhance my ability to endure the things which cannot be changed, the courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to know one from the other.
I have been blessed to know some truly courageous individuals during my lifetime, from whom I have learned that, without courage, wisdom indeed bears no fruit. This list includes not only the role models in my life, but also dear friends and loved ones who have faced and championed their own personal tragedy and trauma. I have also been personally challenged by danger, fear and uncertainty on many occasions, and I can say that the wisdom gained from these experiences has unquestionably improved the quality of my existence. Whether it be professional disappointment, the untimely loss or illness of a family member or a good friend, or a tragic accident marked by loss of life, I believe I have gained and matured from each experience, found the lessons to be learned from less than desirable circumstances, and can awake each day without fear for the unknown.
In my opinion, the rarest courage of all is the courage of thought. As I grow older, my sense of intellectual adventure has increased, and my thirst for knowledge and understanding continues to grow. My experiences have nurtured my conscience, and enhanced my sense of community and giving. This has led me to explore new opinions and perspectives on not only people and their issues, but also on different attitudes and cultures. I admire those who have the courage to stand behind their convictions, to keep true, never be ashamed of doing right; decide on what they think is right, and stick to it.
In addition, I have come to believe that it is equally courageous to sit and listen as it is to stand and speak. Listening is most certainly different from hearing, and I have learned how important it is to understand and appreciate the value of what others have to say. Differences between us are, in fact, an implicit strength, and I believe that active dialogue and communication amongst us can only further our collective goals and objectives.
Napoleon once said that courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment. Indeed, love itself requires courage as well, to seek what you love to do, to love the person you are, and to nourish the love within a relationship. Regarding hope, an old Arabian proverb aptly muses that “he who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.” I believe in the inherent goodness in people, their righteous quest for personal growth and prosperity, and in the benefits of diversity within our society. I hope that, as I grow older, I can bear tribute to these characteristics while contributing to my community. In this light, I offer a quote by Charles Kettering: “we work every day, not to finish things; but to make the future better…because we will spend the rest of our lives there.”
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