What's on my mind.

30 April 2007

Courage vs. Cowardice vs. Inaction

Prepare yourself, it's a long one.
I read Shadowhelm's post about atheism and followed it to Atheist's Wager's. Just now I want to talk about what I felt I had to comment on and the response. (I'm surprised that I care enough about it to want to write this but I do. And this isn't really on topic of the original post, so I'll write it here). The comments (some line breaks removed):
Klej Society said...
...(First part removed because I don't think on topic for this post)...
-The Strength and Courage shown by our NY Firefighters and Police Officers
-The greater sense of Unity among Americans
-The Strengthening of Local Communities
-The Dedication to our fellow citizens shown by nearly all Americans at some level
And so you see that only from Disaster, Only from Pain and Suffering do things like Hope, Love, and Courage have any meaning.
For what would Love mean, if there was no Hatred? What would Courage mean, if there was no Cowardice? And what would Happiness mean, if there was no Pain and Suffering?
April 17, 2007 9:02 AM

Marciepooh said...
to kleg society:
Strength and courage are shown by firefighters, police officers, military personal, EMTs, and others EVERY DAY - they don't need a disaster.
Greater sense of unity? What America are you living in? That lasted about a week.
Strengthing[sic] local communities - eh, maybe, some. But why'd it take the deaths of so many?
Dedication to our fellow Americans? WTF is that?
The opposite of love is not hate it is indifference. The opposite of courage isn't cowardice but inaction. I'll give you the happiness one.

April 17, 2007 9:28 AM
Klej Society said...
Here's a direct quote you just made:
"Strength and courage are shown by firefighters, police officers, military personal, EMTs, and others EVERY DAY - they don't need a disaster"
So How then do they show courage? Because I'm pretty sure it takes a fire to have a firefighter show courage! But I guess that's just my idea.
And Yes the opposite of Love is hate and the opposite of Courage is cowardice, indifference and inaction are the middle grounds!
Love and Hate, Courage and Cowardice are extremes, and Indifference and inaction require neither of both parts,
April 17, 2007 12:54 PM

Maybe I spoke to quickly. Maybe I just wanted to be 'short and sweet' and, therefore, didn't fully explain exactly what I meant; I will now. I think Kleg Society and I were actually talking about slightly different things (and I pretty much knew that when I commented). I hoped that KS would think about love and courage in a different light. Don't think he did.

Love/hate/indifference - the first too require that one cares, indifference means you don't care.

If one is capable of caring enough to hate then one is capable of love. Love can exist without hate. Love can be experienced without having experienced hatred. Indifference is the lack of emotion about a person, idea, or situation. It can mean one doesn't know about it or that one knows enough to care but doesn't. Indifference is not the opposite emotion to love or hate, neither is it a middle ground. It is more like the third corner in the triangle.

Courage/cowardice/inaction - the first too require judgement on the part of the observer, inaction (or action), generally, doesn't imply judgement (one either moves or not). Yes, firefighters need a fire (or other emergency situation) to demonstrate their courage. But I think many individuals exhibit a quite courage, by simply showing up for work everyday. Firefighters, police officers, military personnel, and some others agree to go into dangerous situations. They are courageous whether it that courage is ever tested in a way you and I can see because they choose to put themselves in harms way for others. There is a luxury when one is only responsible for one's self; one can make courageous decisions because no one else depends on you. Actions can sometimes seem courageous or cowardly to an observer but we don't know everything that goes into making the decision. For example, a single mother will act in the best interest of her children, even when her children are not present. She may hide rather than confront a burglar, hand over her purse rather than fight, or not sign a petition to avoid putting her job at risk. No, inaction is not exactly the opposites of courage, but who am I to judge the actions of another.

An aside: Newborns know whether they are loved or not without knowing hatred. Newborns can "fail to thrive" if they are not held enough. If the the baby "thinks" the world is indifferent to him, he won't eat, grow, or ultimately live. As individuals, many of us would not have survived our infancy if we had been cared for indifferently. A caregiver doesn't have to hate a baby for her to give up, just not care.

P.S. - I'm not cut out for posting on controversial threads. I generally dislike book length comments (although understand if you feel strongly about a topic, just don't make it a habit). I also hate being misunderstood, sounding preachy, and being nit-picky (all things I get to do here!). AND my feelings get hurt way too easily. SO I guess I'll just keep reading and occasionally do a trackback.

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