There is no such thing as a given in life, and even less such a thing as courageous will. It needs to be embodied in action. We are what we repeatedly do, and this is even more true for people who define themselves as courageous. It is even more demanding. A single action lacking courage can wipe out thousands of courageous actions. This is why courage is a value that could be equated with purity, just like honesty. Someone who tells the truth 90 percent of the time will still be a liar. On the few occasions when this individual has decided to break his moral code, he has in fact simply destroyed the qualities he claimed to possess.
Good is practised totally, whereas evil can be practised intermittently
Evil is more tempting or seductive in that it is less demanding. Everyone aspires to goodness, but it is not easy to have exemplary, unwavering conduct throughout one’s life if one does not have a will of steel or an iron discipline. People find it easy to wallow in evil because moral mediocrity is comfortable, while creating a mental image of themselves associated with good. So, yes, perfection does not exist, but acknowledging one’s faults in order to return to the path of goodness when one has left it is essential. Acknowledged faults are half corrected. It’s like being the captain of a ship and having deviated a few degrees from your original course. Not recognising that you are heading in the wrong direction will prevent you from taking the right one. The more time passes, the more you will deviate from your original goal, and in the end you will never reach it. If you have done the wrong thing, you must acknowledge it and compensate by doing twice as well the next time, otherwise you will always be in debt. The same applies to the boat metaphor: if you have deviated 2 degrees from your initial course for half an hour, you must compensate by going in the other direction at four degrees for half an hour (-2: deviated course, 0: initial course, + 2: correction course; the difference between 2 and -2 at the angular level is 4).
Courage as the cornerstone of harmony in society
Courage is the basis of all virtues said Aristotle (the exact quote is: courage is the first of the human qualities because it guarantees all the others). A society that puts courage in the background is doomed to failure because it jeopardises all the other virtues it needs to ensure its continuity (justice, honour, sense of sacrifice etc.).
If the society in which you live lacks courage, you will have to redouble your courage
The society in which we grow up influences us by setting the rules of the game for climbing the ladder.
The problem arises when the rules tend to favour the mediocre, the cowardly or the despicable in social advancement. If you do not want to corrupt your values, you have two choices: either you become an outsider in the society in which you were born, or you look elsewhere for a society that can recognise and value the virtues you claim.
Courage as a habit
To be good, you have to be good. Good does not mean kind, but virtuous. As people become what they do repeatedly, they must adopt habits that enable them to develop their qualities. Courage being the first of all virtues according to Aristotle, he must first of all build and maintain habits of courage.
The necessary learning of conflictuality
Courage consists in facing one’s fears. It consists in opposing an oppressive or oppressive force. Courage is the manifestation of a will to power, it is the prerequisite of strength. A weak but courageous person will become strong. The reverse is also true. Courage is learned in the clash of consciousnesses and bodies. Courage is born in the heart (that is where it gets its name) and then takes and projects all the qualities of the heart. Without courage, there are no heart qualities.
Building a habit of courage
Any habit is created little by little. You don’t change your nature overnight. It takes an impulse, a daily spark towards power like the bird that starts to flap its wings before taking flight.
Laughing at the good things
We become what we admire and the opposite of what we laugh at. Admiration plays a key role in developing qualities of heart. Taking the wrong role models inevitably leads us down the wrong path, which in no way leads to nobility of heart.
There are models that are imposed on us: parental figures, family circle, etc. These people can make our childhood a very special experience. These people can make our childhood a blessing or a cross. Until we are in our twenties, we are essentially the product of our childhood. Adolescence is in itself a reactionary movement towards parental figures because of the distancing it encourages, but it does not really liberate us from the stigma of family upbringing. The rebellious adolescent separates himself from his parents with the weapons his parents have given him. The colonised country liberates itself through the principles of the colonising country. It is only much later that the nation acquires its true identity, at the cost of effort and a strong will to emancipate. Otherwise, it remains a prisoner of its history.
Thus, at 20, one is largely a product of one’s childhood. At 30, on the other hand, we are the product of our choices and our will to individualise.
This is why we can be taught to despise or laugh at certain individuals during our childhood while at the same time being told to admire this or that person. This is how we will later develop the qualities of the people we admire. Love is the cement of change.
If you don’t seek virtue, vice will find you
If you grow up in an environment that is not sensitive to virtue, you will become immoral or amoral as the case may be. Since nature abhors a vacuum, one tends to experience the opposite of what one did not actively seek. Thus, a gardener who is lazy and does not plant vegetables or pretty flowers in his garden will be forced to suffer the proliferation of weeds. Someone who does not entertain positive thoughts in his mind will be invaded by unhealthy and dark thoughts.
Start befriending virtuous people
Are you not surrounded by especially good people around you? Why not make friends with books that contain the souls of eminent, wise or enlightened people. A library is a collection of silent friends, as a certain French author liked to say. Why not go in search of illustrious people and start absorbing their spirit?
Virtue is expensive in the short term but pays off in the long term
Another way of putting it would be: virtue is bitter but its fruits are sweet. How would you feel about neglecting your education? You will feel that education is expensive but ignorance is much more expensive in the long run. What is the purpose of the pursuit of virtue? Essentially, it makes happiness available to all. If we said that wealth is a sufficient condition for happiness, only a part of the population would be happy because wealth is a concept that is measured by comparison: one is rich relative to others. If everyone is rich, no one is, in reality. Virtue is opposed to lack of virtue or vice. Nevertheless, if everyone is virtuous, they would not suddenly become wicked. Virtue does not exist through comparisons but through its intrinsic character. That is its strength. If it depends on nothing but itself to achieve happiness, then it is a true tool of emancipation and freedom. Indeed, if your happiness depends on something that you do not control (as a result of a comparison with things that are out of your control, for example), then it is fragile.
The need for progression
Happiness does not exist in regression or stagnation. It is a constant questioning, notably through the necessary practice of courage. However, there is a phenomenon of inertia with the practice of virtue: it is easier to act virtuously when one is used to it and, on the contrary, it is more difficult when one is wicked. That said, there are small daily battles to be won like the gardener who has to remove the weeds from his garden to keep it beautiful.
To sum up:
Courage is necessary for all the other virtues. The virtues are themselves the root of a lasting happiness that does not depend on anything but itself. The path of virtue is not taken by many people because our education tends to corrupt us. We need to befriend people whose qualities we seek. Virtue requires a daily effort.