mercredi, octobre 03, 2007

The character of courage

I've been thinking about courage a lot recently. Not the kind of courage one has when facing an enemy in a fight where guns are cocked and fists are flailing, but the type one needs when facing a prickly situation.

A few days ago I was driving my son to meet his dad. "Mom, I saw two bees mating," he told me. Oh oh, was he preparing for the sex talk, I wondered? "How did you know they were mating?" I asked him.

He explained that they were stuck together. Then he commented that the kids he was with had killed the bees.

That took my mind off sex in a hurry. How cruel, I said. He agreed-then he added that he should have stopped them "but I didn't have the courage."

Maybe I'm giving him too much credit (me?), but I find this an amazingly mature statement for a ten year old. I told him that sometimes we had courage, and sometimes we didn't, and not to be too hard on himself.

I want him to be brave, but I also want him to have common sense. I want him to have school friends, but I also want him to stand up for what is just and moral and kind.

I tend to think I have a kind of native bravery-or, more accurately, that I am compelled to speak where other people might be quiet. When I meet guys, one of my criteria for pursuing relationships is their ability to handle the tough times-communication that calls for saying hard things in a way that builds up rather than tears down. I find, often, that it is sometimes easier to run than to stand one's ground.

I can't imagine that feels very good-but the habits of years are difficult to break.

I know, first-hand. I've recently found myself in a situation where I have stayed in my sanctuary rather than confront someone close to me-and it has cost me some self-respect. We may have all kinds of excellent reasons for not facing up to cruelty or for choosing to walk away from situations that make us uncomfortable-but is that worth the price of losing part of ourselves?

2 commentaires:

Sue a dit…

Oh, I could write a volume in response to this ... ! I found it very interesting that Colin would phrase it that way, because -- yes -- sticking up for anything (even a bee) or anyone takes courage. When we were going through that horrible mess last fall, I kept asking over and over, "Why isn't anyone saying anything? Why won't they stand up and do something about it? Why are they letting it happen?" I even voiced this to some, and the responses I received were very sad eyes and even some tears ... but then they walk away in silence. It's hard to be that "bee." But then I wonder ... what would I do if I was an observer of something like that? Would I have the courage to say something? After that ... yes. You can't go through something like that and remain unchanged.

Maybe Colin's experience has opened his eyes a bit; clearly he's very sensitive to this. It will shape him, that's for sure -- and that's a good thing. It's not easy, though. He's a good kid -- and he's got a great mom. :)

Offcenter a dit…

Thank you, Sue. Being a mom yourself, I imagine you look at your kids with the same surprise that I do-where did that come from? Did he get that from his dad or from me or perhaps from neither or us? I know what you mean about people who don't speak up. It takes a while to work through one's disappointment with them. Hopefully the strong relationships outlast the disillusionment.