Unless we start growing some balls again, our country is in for some serious trouble. On the street, in business or in politics, too many people want to run from trouble. Others want to hide out until someone else saves them.
Two contrasting stories from last week perfectly frame the contrast between courage and cowardice.
The first is an example of courage. Ian Lee Stawicki was barred from a small Seattle cafe for his erratic behavior. He responded by returning to the cafe with a gun and opening fire, hitting 5 patrons. He could have killed more…
Another patron, Lawrence Adams, took action. He grabbed the only weapons he had at hand and started flinging bar stools at the gunman allowing 3 other patrons to escape.
Another man hid in the bathroom and called 911. He acted bravely as well. He did not face the attacker head-on after being shot himself, but got himself clear and called for help.
Contrast that with the non-action of the coward who shot this video:
As a Philadelphia police officer was brutally assaulted, this asshole calmly took out his cell phone and recorded the attack for posterity. Eventually, a 911 call was made…but not from his phone.
As you can see in this video, many people had the opportunity to help the officer. No one responded.
I’m not advocating that you jump in and risk your own life in a situation like these. Your level of intervention is a highly personal decision and unless you’re fully committed to combat in these situations, you may cause more harm than good.
But you can do something.
This is why I say the man who called police from the Seattle bathroom also acted courageously. Like too many others, the man in the bathroom, fearing for his life, could have simply cowered silently so as not to risk attracting the attention of the gunman. This would have been completely understandable- he was shot and seriously wounded. Instead, as you hear on the report, he acted with a cool-head and made a clear report to police that helped them respond quickly.
Heroic courage is facing bullets, running into burning buildings and risking your own life to save others. Opportunities for heroic courage are, fortunately, few and far between.
Moral courage is doing the right thing- even when it’s tough.
You hopefully won’t have to make the decision between courage and cowardice in extreme situations like in these examples. However- most of us face scenarios in business, family life and in our communities that test our resolve.
- Are you willing to stand up for the target of a bully at work, even if it means risking your own job?
- Are you willing to take action when people in your community are wronged?
- Are you willing to pass on a profitable business deal because you know it’s too good to be completely above board?
- Do you teach your kids to stand up for others or do you teach them to mind their own business at all times?
There is risk in any of these decisions. Risk is essential to the definition of courage- no risk…no courage. The other essential element is fear.
Courage is not the absence of fear; the absence of fear is stupidity.
Courage means acting in the face of fear and exposing yourself to risk.
How do you prepare to act with courage? Decide!
FOX News reported Larry’s inspiration:
“My brother died in the World Trade Center,” the man, identified as Lawrence Adams, later told police. After his brother’s death, he said, he resolved that if something like this ever happened, “I would never hide under a table.”
No mention of special forces training. No indication that Adams was a martial arts expert or former police officer. He simply made a decision.
He faced his attacker and saved the lives of several other people. We need more people like Larry Adams.
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