Sunday, November 02, 2008

A father's chronicles (Brave and Courage)

One of the good thing that came out of Theophilus' good appetite of reading is that I get to read some of his books too. And I must admit that we are quite good at getting nice books for him. Reading is a very sensitive thing. We feed our brains with tons of things, and if we get poor quality content books, the result can be quite destructive.

Anyhow, the book that I read was Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. You can find it here.

Quite a nice book - you got to bear with the slow moving start, but it moves better subsequently.

Here is an abstract of it which I find it very good.

"But," he went on, as his hands moved with their sure and practiced motion, "I will tell you just a little, because you were so very brave."

"Brave?" Annemarie asked, surprised. "No, I wasn't. I was very frightened."

"You risked your life."

"But I didn't even think about that! I was only thinking of - "

He interrupted her, smiling, "That's all that brave means - not thinking of the dangers. Just thinking about what you must do. Of course you were frightened. I was too, today. But you kept your mind on what you had to do. So did I....."

Well, I often asked myself whether that is bravery or courage. To some, that is nothing but semantics, and perhaps it really is.

For Aristotle, courage is dependent on sound judgement, for it needs to be known whether the end justifies the risk incurred. Similarly, courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to feel the appropriate amount of fear.

To me, courage is really doing what is right in spite of fear. I often do not see "Brave" having this notion, even though above passage puts it that way. In fact, most of the time, I do have the picture of "recklessness" for bravery, which I do not feel in the fabric of "courageous".

I admit I am not a good student of language, so I should not be too dogmatic about this.

Whatever it is, I want my children to know that doing the right thing does not mean that there is no fear. As a father, my role is very important. The first step is not to teach about bravery or being courageous. The first step that we should embark is: teaching them what is right.

Without knowing and understanding the truth, our sacrifice could be wrongly directed and misguided.