Saturday, 5 March 2016
How very brave
Personally I think one of the bravest things is simply to be yourself - to stand up for your own opinions and convictions when everyone around you is saying something totally different. And when they may be violently hostile if you disagree with them.
Openly defending women for example, when you're surrounded by men being aggressively misogynistic. You can be met by frosty stares, ridicule or personal abuse. Plenty of people would keep their mouths shut rather than speaking out.
Then again, some people would say that isn't really bravery, it's just self-assertion. Real bravery, they say, is taking serious physical risks - on a battlefield, or fighting a fire, or rescuing someone in danger. Disregarding your own safety for the sake of others is the real test of your inner mettle.
A lot of people talk about someone's brave fight against cancer. But what's brave about it? You fight cancer because you have to - either you fight or you die. You aren't taking a physical risk, you aren't challenging anyone, you're just doing what you have to do.
Or people say it's brave to make a new start in life - to move to another country, or change your career, or remarry. But again, is that true bravery or just doing what you have to do - abandoning something you never felt comfortable with?
I think we should use the word "brave" more sparingly, more accurately, and not chuck it around like a casual compliment. Otherwise genuine bravery - like that of Malala Yousafzai - gets overlooked and devalued.