Funny how one word can mean so many different things. Or be used to excuse behavior that’s the exact opposite of what the word represents.
Bravery is such an interesting word. What does it really mean? It conjures images of epic actions, heroic battles, boldly standing up for What’s Right in the face of terrible odds. Yet that depiction always seemed hollow to me. The alternative for not being brave in those situations is often so bad that in that moment, I’d probably be just of scared (if not more) of the consequences of doing nothing. At least if I was doing SOMETHING I’d feel a little less afraid.
So in many ways, I think it’s the little moments that are the most difficult to be brave in, because you have a muddy choice between what is easy…and what is right.
Standing up for someone in a conversation when they don’t feel strong enough to stand up for themselves, even if it makes a previously casual chat awkward and socially fraught with danger. Accepting the consequences of an action with grace and dignity, rather than dragging others through emotional mud for the sake of pride. Helping a stranger when their credit card comes up denied in line at the grocery store. Offering to help an elderly woman to reach something in a store. Standing up for yourself, saying “no,” when everybody expects you to say “yes.” Striking up a conversation with a stranger, because it looked like they needed someone to talk to.
They’re such small things, but there’s a palpable barrier that has to be pushed through. I’ve been in all of those situations above myself. Some I was able to act in. Others, I opened my mouth to speak, felt that barrier, and silenced my own voice. There was no do-or-die. No major consequence when I failed to act. It’s easy to walk away. Except you never know when a tiny act of kindness, or support, or generosity will change a person’s life. Many of the biggest moments in my life happened in tiny conversations.
One of my favorite phrases is, “Do not concern yourself with great deeds. Only with good ones every day.”
How has a small act of bravery changed your life?