Quiet courage


Courage doesn’t always roar.  Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow’.  Mary Anne Radmacher

The writing of my October blog was interrupted by the bloody conflict which erupted violently in the Middle East on October 7th, and by the ongoing and profound trauma and suffering which has since ensued.  Splayed across social and mainstream media, the toll is utterly devastating with terms such as ‘terrorism’, ‘inhumanity’ and ‘moral clarity’ (or lack thereof) oft being repeated.  As I was intending to write about quiet courage, a term I have learnt about only recently, I saw an intersection of that intention with the profoundly tragic socio-historical human drama unfolding before my eyes.

In the face of abject terror, of horror, of inhumanity from one to another, of overwhelming fear, of danger, of unrelenting grief and anger, how do we cope?  How do we find a sense of meaning in what is unfolding to ourselves, to those we love, to our country-men and women?   How do we carry on living our lives and what is it within ourselves that enables us to do so?

Mankind has throughout its short history on the planet exhibited and carried out terrible acts of violence, cruelty and barbarism toward itself, and it is obvious that the societies in which we live are frequently characterised by acts of great injustice which takes many forms.   However, amid the hatred and the fear and the oppression, there have always been those whose voices and actions have embodied and striven toward ethical and humanistic goals of equality and understanding, of inclusiveness, fairness and justice.  Be they on the world or media stage or be they our neighbour next door living quietly and without fanfare, they exhibit a steadfast emotional and mental strength in the face of challenging and at times overwhelming adversity.

Howard Thurman, African American theologian and civil rights activist writes in his book Meditations of the Heart the following words, “There is a quiet courage that comes from an inward spring of confidence in the meaning and significance of life. Such courage is an underground river, flowing far beneath the shifting events of one’s experience, keeping alive a thousand little springs of action”.  Thurman talks about ‘life’, about the significance of life and about something deep within the individual, something unshakeable, something that gives one the strength to face life and to carry on, no matter how difficult that may be.

It seems to me that this part of us is something which isn’t bound by time, perhaps because it exists outside of it, or because it transcends it. It is coupled with a conviction, a knowing that despite what is happening in the world, despite what is happening to us or to the people we love, there is something within us that can never die, that can never be sullied by the actions of another toward it, that can never be mortally extinguished.  That is the eternal man or woman, that is the real essence of their being, and that is the part that isn’t bound by time, because it is timeless.

Michele T Knight Written by:

Dr Michele Knight is a Social Worker, Social Scientist, researcher and independent scholar. Her interest and research in the end-of-life has its origin in the lived experiences of her own bereavements, her near-death and shared-death events, the returning deceased and attitudinal responses to those experiences. Since 2006, she has been extensively involved in community development, support and advocacy in both a professional and community services/voluntary capacity in the areas of bereavement and grief, hospital pastoral care, and academic lecturing/tutoring. Her PhD, Ways of Being: The alchemy of bereavement and communique, explores the lived experience of bereavement, grief, spirituality and unsought encounters with the returning deceased.

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