Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Uncle Justin Lectures On Being A Man #2 - Courage

Hi Leif,

I hope this note finds you well and happy.  Your Aunt Crystal told me I needed to send you a note with a little more meat in it, so I feel another lecture is in order.  As your Uncle I am charged with certain aspects of your character development (with full permission from your parents, of course).  Being a man comes with some very important responsibilities.  Don't worry though Nephew, there are several good things about being a man that balance out those responsibilities.  I'll tell you about those later.  Now, we have some business to attend to.  The issue of courage is at hand and it may be one of the most important things you need to acknowledge and harness.  As a man, Leif, you must be courageous.  An interesting aspect of life is that in order to develop the good parts of one's character you must go though difficulty.  This is distinctly true with courage.  No matter how many times you'll read it in a novel or see it in some play, it is not true that someone has courage.  Courage is a practice.  It is something you do.
The word courage stirs the sinew and brings front images of strength.  It never comes by itself.  Courage always brings along ugly words like fear and pain.  Courage is the measure of your spirit in the midst of fear and pain.  There will be times in your life Leif, and I hope they are few, were you will be afraid.  Fear is not always a bad thing.  Fear keeps you safe.  It basically regulates stupidity.  Fear is something that tells you if you jump off your house it won't work out well for you.  Listen to it.  The problem is that too many people use fear as a commander, when they should use it as a consultant.  Fear should never get in the way of sound judgement.  There are many men, Nephew, that never get over being embarrassed when fear takes over.  For example, you don't drop a baby to swat a spider off your leg.  You should always be prepared to take the adrenaline rush of fear and use it to steel your nerve and fuel your decision to stand up for what's right.
Pain is also another source that brings courage.  Our bodies are wired to avoid pain, but sometimes having courage mean taking a little pain in the name of what's good and right.  I won't beleaguer this point with you Leif.  There is much time for it when you get older.
As a man you must be courageous in the face of fear.  Protect those you love when they are threatened.   Stand up for what's right and true.  It is moving forward when all those around you retreat.  It is standing up when all other's cower.  You are an American, Nephew.  In this country, we stand.

Love - Uncle Justin

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