Aristotle said courage is the most important virtue as it’s the one needed when other virtues are at testing point.
This week is the 50th anniversary of MLK Jr’s assassination. A few years ago, whilst tandeming across the USA with Christine, we visited the Memphis motel-turned-museum where he was shot on a balcony. Holy ground.
In their book “The Power of Moments” Chip & Dan Heath discuss the cafe “sit-ins” that MLK organised: black students sitting in white-only cafes – resulting in horrendous abuse. The students refused to retaliate, and by taking a beating, they helped change history.
However, the students didn’t find their super-human courage only from the nobility of their cause. Rather, they’d prepared by putting themselves through training, especially in role-plays where they were insulted and slapped by actors. So they developed courage for the real thing.
Research shows that exposing ourselves to scary tests, even in role-play, does actually grow our courage. Thus we shouldn’t just hope to miraculously have courage when the moment demands it. We can regularly expose ourselves to contexts requiring courage – so when the true tests of life come, we’re more ready.