Courage vs Cowardice

 “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

This quote showed up on my facebook wall recently (thanks Carol!) and got me thinking about how I define success and failure, courage and cowardice. During my deep thoughts, I stumbled across a memory of an exercise I was assigned in my first design studio in college. We had to base a design around courage and cowardice. Stop with the eye-rolls people, it was an important exercise! If only for the fact it made me realize that my brain does not work like normal peoples.

In a group of eight or nine, I was the only one that thought it took more effort to be a coward than a hero.  As I stood there in the front of the group, defending my argument it hit me: either these people are cracked or I was dropped one too many times as a child.

It was my first time standing in front of a group and defending my work. Was my view so far out of the realm of reason that no one else could get behind it? It may have been the first time that happened but it wouldn’t be the last!

My basic premise was that courage is generally based on adrenaline and opportunity. You react before you realize you should be covering your own ass then it’s over. Whereas cowardice creeps in, in small and insidious ways. You know, not speaking up when you know you should or not defending someone or yourself. It’s a thousand small acts not to mention the energy used justifying your actions to yourself. All the while hoping no one notices your cowardice. It consumes so much time and energy.

Like I said already, they all looked at me like I was crazy! Even the instructor!

Well time and experience has done nothing to change my mind. I still believe that cowardice is a disease that eats away at your soul and courage is a reflex. I believe the capacity for both lives in everyone but how you react to situations and opportunities is what makes you, you.

Personally, I think I have both aspects with the scales tipping more to courage than coward. I’m certainly opinionated and honest but I’m not sure that always means courageous.  Sometimes I’m convinced that I engage in a form of cowardice since I hide behind my outspokenness on occasion. Don’t ask me to explain that because I can’t. Not effectively anyway. I’ve tried. You’re just going to have to trust me here.

Well I digressed a bit from the main point; what else is new?

So what do you think? Where my studio-mates cracked or was I dropped one to many times?

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