“Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”
We are all familiar with the catchphrase “patience is a virtue.” I know this all too well from when I was little as my Mom would use it with me or even my Dad when we would get frustrated with something. I never really gave it much thought as to what virtues really were until I got older. They are those standard moral qualities we possess and are the cornerstone of creating the personality of each individual. American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou’s quote reminds us that what is needed most to open the doorway to practicing such virtues as kindness, truth, merciful, generous and honest is courage to do so.
Exhibiting or lacking courage is all the difference between being in control of your own life or have your life be in control of you. Courage is that inner strength one possesses when faced with fear or when dealing with certain pain or grief. Now no one is ever just born with courage as it is something that is developed over time with the love and support of family and friends I believe. Ways in which we develop courage is by first and foremost embracing our vulnerability as it breeds honesty and trustworthiness. When we admit our fears we open our minds and our hearts to others. We have experienced failure and other hardships but like a boxer that refuses to stay down on the canvas or like a phoenix rising from the ashes we rise because of courage as well as the will not to quit. I could think of no other way to bring home the point that courage makes everything else possible than Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise:
Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
What does this quote mean to you and how can you apply today’s message towards improving your self awareness?