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Physical Courage Versus Moral Courage

Submitted by Thinking CAP on Thu, Jan 12, 2012 - 1:23 am

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.

Attributed to: 
Mark Twain

It is good to see this differentiation made.

Bullies rely on physical intimidation and prowess.

Is it difficult to be physically “courageous” when you are twice the size of someone else, or taking others by surprise dressed like a black hole, or carrying weaponry and equipment that not too many years ago the military would envy? Is it difficult to be physically courageous given the camaraderie of a gang of your buddies, who are also high on adrenaline, the thrill of the chase and thrill of the kill?

No, none of that is difficult. There are sayings and songs about mobs and mob rules.

What is morally courageous is standing up to those physical bullies in a non-violent way! We see this in Jesus, Ghandi, and Martin Luther King Jr. And MANY others not as famous or otherwise completely unknown, for now. (Jesus promises they will be acknowledged and rewarded.)

What is morally courageous is standing up to the bullies when those you are trying to help are despised. Jesus is the prime example of this. Jesus had the courage to hang out with those who were considered lowlifes.

  • Moral courage is when Jesus knew the leaders would call him a drunk, but he drank alcohol anyway.
  • Moral courage is when Jesus knew the leaders would call him a glutton, but he ate with the outcasts anyway.
  • Moral courage is when the leaders order you to stop breaking the law, but you heal people anyway.
  • Moral courage is when the leaders order you to tell your followers to stop what they are doing, but you tell the leaders they are the ones who should hush up.
  • Moral courage is when Jesus touched dead people who were not his own relatives, and instead of Jesus becoming unclean, he raised the dead to life.
  • Etc…

Jesus isn’t like most politicians, those who work hard to ingratiate themselves with rich people, beautiful people, or popular people.

Jesus had the moral courage to break ignorant traditions; many considered him having broken various laws, and he also spoke out against the leaders, defying what they ordered him to do.

Most of the power elite hated him, but since they could not find any flaws in his logic, they did their best to shame him as an individual. But Jesus threw off their shame and ignored it. In fact Jesus told them (and everyone) they would be held accountable for every word they’ve spoken. Things like, “lock them up and throw away the key,” “violence and deaths indicate we are winning the drug war,” “we should just kill all the druggies,” etc… Jesus — and much of the Bible — quite clearly state that on Judgement Day people will be treated the way they’ve treated others; judged the way we’ve judged others.

So what kind of reward from God do you want?
Beatings, shame and everlasting contempt, groaning in pain, etc… To be thrown down from your lofty position because you had the opportunity to fix gross injustices but were too afraid of the “physically courageous?”

Or perhaps you would prefer something like what various Hollywood movies can only begin to portray, where the hero is beaten down, then kicked while s/he is down, but keeps faith, trudges on although everyone is against him or her, then, finally at the end, everyone comes to realize the hero was only doing good and was horribly mistreated; and there is a glorious ceremony honoring the unrighteously persecuted hero and the minority who believed in and helped him/her.

And those who spread lies and gross mischaracterizations about him/her grovel. (But don’t forget that Jesus said to be glad your names are written heaven, not because … well, read it yourself. I.e. don’t look forward to them groveling. ;-)

There is lots of scripture I didn’t link to, just ask your pastor for references or check out the Bible yourself.

And just in case you think your physical courage is due to moral courage, please be sure to read about moral decay. And if you think God can’t read your mind and you can fake him out with, “I was only doing my job by smashing their stuff to bits because they had some flowers, and I shot their friends and dog dead while I did it; I was only doing my job,” or, “my job description makes me oppose common sense and spread lies,” read this: Only Doing My Job.

Here are some recent examples of people who put moral courage, righteous logic, and compassion above their fears of retribution and shame:
LEAP and/or Law Enforcement Related