In this chapter, you will learn the following.
- What courage is
- Structures constraining our ability to act per our values
- Structures enabling our ability to act per our values
- My most important lesson
Wisdom is action-oriented, but who has the time? Enacting our choices takes effort and persistence.
Moreover, the constant companion of action is risk. When we act, we risk failure. We put our reputation, and possibly our job, on the line. In some cases, our actions may endanger our life and health.
When such efforts and dangers threaten us, an evening spent playing your favourite video game or choosing to keep your head down at work and only doing what you are told seems tempting. Sometimes, it is wise to hold back and stay on the sidelines.
Yet, failing to act is also a choice, and choosing to do nothing comes with its own risks.
How, then, can you find the courage and motivation to do what your values guide you to do? You may read all the books your teacher assigns, pass all their tests, yet fail to apply those lessons in the heat of the moment. You may know what needs doing yet remain silent. You may have the best of intentions, yet freeze, paralyzed by fear. How can we flip the switch from good intention to wise action, from knowing to doing?
Well, there’s nothing this textbook can say that will flip that switch for you. Instead, this text provides an understanding of the structures that constrain and enable our willingness to act.
The following section briefly defines courage. The parts after that then consider several structures constraining people’s desire to act per their values. After this, the chapter explores structures enabling moral actions. This book then focuses on aspects of your own life that may help you find your motivation and courage to act.