On Moral And Intellectual Courage

Courage is the fruit of conviction; it is the projection of the heart’s faith upon the other senses, for courage cannot exist without a love worth defending, a belief worth fighting for, an idea worth sacrificing for and a truth so profound that one would rather die in its search than live in ignorance.

Courage is the gem by whose possession one can evolve from a human being into a hero, but courage is not just wielding swords and declaring wars, courage is not just shouting slogans and raising banners, courage is more subtle and less glamorous than that, courage is like steel it sits silently while brass drums for war, but brass alone does not win wars nor is the trumpeter the bravest of the brave, courage does not take credit nor does it concern itself with it. Courage only reveals itself to itself, with the sole purpose of pleasing itself and thus it does not expect to be rewarded for being itself.

Moral courage is to do the thing thought to be right despite enemies of flesh and spirit, with total disregard to sensory consequences of pain and pleasure and economical outcomes of profit and loss. To have a moral compass so finely tuned and rigorously adjusted that it stands unwavering, unaffected by magnetic variations of personal interest and weak emotions and local gravities of social pressures, always pointing to the north, everywhere and every time. Not just possessing such a compass but also possessing the will and strength to follow it and let it be your sole guide in your navigation. There are men who would rather drown under the guidance of such a compass than reach the shores through devious routes outlined by maladjusted compasses whose north varies every second and whose needle dances to the tune of the hand that holds it, such a compass is designed for cowards and manufactured by wishful thinking and selfish emotions and the outcome is absolute disorientation.

Intellectual courage is to search for the truth and to follow its lead, on a gait outlined by logic and steps propelled by critical analysis and experimentation. Let this be your approach and then worry not about where these steps take you, like Alice down the rabbit hole fueled by curiosity and excited by bits of information, let every answer be a question and every question be an adventure, let every bite increase your hunger and every leap alter your destination further into the lands of knowledge for the hunger for knowledge is sweet in taste and the journey is rich in rewards. In the face of such attitudes, fear has no choice but to retreat in shame, with its tail between its legs as it loses dominion over kindled hearts burning to the oils of knowledge and violating the darkness of ignorance, such were the hearts of brave sailors who sailed to the end of the world half expecting to fall off a great waterfall that marked the edge of a rectangular Earth only to return back home to tell their people that they now KNOW the Earth to be round, such are the hearts of astronauts who navigate space on depressing diets of conserved foods and inside a limited cabin with zero gravity for years, not knowing whether they will return home or get caught up in a gravitational field and be confined to an orbit for eternity, nothing but courage can generate such determination and nothing but love, faith and conviction can generate such courage.

Seekers of truth are the true superheroes and saviors of humanity, for if knowledge was a necklace, then truth would be its invisible, intangible continuous thread and truth seekers would be the visible tangible beads and gems decorating it, so that humanity as a whole may adorn its neck with it and set itself apart from other animals, we are privileged to belong to the same species as such men and women, every spaceship we build is a tribute to Kepler, Newton and Galileo, every time particles collide inside CERN’s particle accelerator they paint a picture for Einstein, every time a ship sets sail it bows to Ibn Battuta, every time a surveyor makes an observation, humanity’s debt to Eratosthenes increases, every application of mathematics is a flower on the graves of Alkhawarizmy, Gauss and Archimedes.

There are countless statues of nameless people who erected them hoping that they will never be forgotten, but we do not know of their names nor their achievements (perhaps for the lack of achievements) but our beloved scientist did not bother with erecting statues for themselves, but rather they busied themselves with erecting pillars upon which knowledge may stand and now here they are, in the collective memories of our species (books) their names ring, echo and reverberate, never to be forgotten. 

Courage is noble beyond honoring, there is no reward for it, for courage itself is the reward for faith, love and conviction, and any attempt to reward it is a disrespect to its nature and a doubt cast upon its pure intentions, courage is honored and rewarded by being itself.

image – Bronx

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