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Courage is moving toward the good in the presence of fear.
There is an invisible wall of fear blocking the good. It’s always there, as a constant deterrent, making any noble pursuit difficult. Fear, if translated into plain English, tells us the following: get the fuck out, leave, run, hide; this is way over your head. Sometimes, it is wise to listen to this advice, as it would be reckless to ignore it. Other times, the wise move is to allow the fear to pierce through, stand straight, flash a cocksure smirk, and move forward.
Ultimately, we all have to gain fear literacy, discerning when to run away and when to face fear head-on despite the consequences. Wisdom is needed for this. Still, even when we know it is wise to confront what brings fear, many turn around, cowering away. Courage is needed to avoid this. Knowing what is good + fear + primordial “let’s fucking go” energy = courage. When courageous, one's body is doped up with a sense of invincibility, stimulating it to penetrate fear with spiritedness.
Without courage, our wisdom will be impotent. Many people are living with cowardly impotence, denying the world their good. A false myth of courage, especially among men, is that courage is conjured solely within, as if we are all meant to be solo Clint Eastwood characters, wandering around as lone cowboys, unflinchingly shooting up all the bad guys. No. We need people to encourage us. The prefix en- means "make, put in,” hence encouraging someone means putting courage in them. People can be discouraged, meaning courage is taken away, leaving them vulnerable to the unreasonable demands of fear.
The main culprit for our collective cowardly impotence is not only that the ingredients for courage are absent, but the opposite of courage, cowardice, is being put within. I dislike making up new words, but a new one is needed: encowering. To encourage someone means to put courage in them. To encower someone means to put cowardice in them.
Cowardice is a Stoic vice, the opposite of the Stoic virtue of courage. To be a coward does not merely mean a lack of courage. To be a coward means having the disposition to react to fear, allowing it to boss one around and becoming its devoted servant. We are being made cowards en masse, impelled to have a slavish devotion to fear, with endless rationales and thought-determining clichés littering our minds.
We live in an encowering world. The proper response is to create an encouraging one.