Craven Coward?

Cowardice is a shifting line in the sand, isn’t it? Very often, the word-missile is no more subtle than an accusation levelled at one who baulks at something that we, personally, do not fear! Our own moments of gibbering, pantie-wetting terror are, of course, legitimate, understandable, even logical!

There are those who pride themselves on feeling no fear at all – ever! Are they truly brave, though – or merely mind-blowingly insensitive, unimaginative and, potentially, bloody lethal?

Put it this way: Is the ability to drive at one hundred and twenty miles an hour down a motorway evidence of being one of the elite of bravery? Or an attribute of such total, possibly terminal, stupidity that few in their right minds would entertain even the remotest feeling of pride at owning such a dubious skill?

We label others as cowards with insulting ease. Scared of spiders? You’re a wimp! Frightened of the dark? Jeez, what a wuss! Made anxious by planes, speeding, physical symptoms? Call Dignitas now and put yourself out of your craven, pathetic misery, you utter worm of humanity!

But, I have a question to ask: Why were we given the capacity for fear if it weren’t of some benefit to our long-term survival strategy? And where has this notion of cowardice come from? Do only the gung-ho deserve to inherit the earth?

Sometimes, there is a direct correlation between fearlessness and unnecessary risk – not to mention bollock-numbing unawareness of any one else’s feelings, rights and beliefs! Those who fear nothing can be just as much of a drag to be around – as they boast and posture and sneer at everyone else – as those who are affected by numerous fears.

I do not find anything of lasting value in someone who flexes muscles metaphorical and real, deliberately terrifying others by his/her hair-raising antics, and then turns on you for spoiling the occasion by being scared/throwing up/swooning/refusing to laugh like a hyena when confronted by a yawning abyss/vertiginous drop on a winding narrow road with no railings!

Thrill-seeking is one thing – and we all do it to some degree or another. But the kind of showing off which undermines the ‘weakest’ members of the group and endangers everyone else is not, to my mind, bravery. It is crass, cretinous and, often, cruel!


As it happens, I have little fear of spiders – unless the buggers are the size of a brick shithouse or the Typhoid Mary of the Arachnid world – but I most certainly would not label anyone who did fear them as a coward.

Those who bandy the words ‘coward’ or ‘cowardice‘ around so generously perhaps need to look within and ask themselves what deeply-hidden fear (of inadequacy, I suspect)they are expending so much nastiness and projection to keep out of sight!

Compassion and empathy cost nothing. They are, in fact, priceless…

…and we all have those moments, like the ‘Wizard of Oz’ Lion, when we say, ‘…if I only had a noive!’


8 thoughts on “Craven Coward?

  1. This is a very thought provoking post. “Why were we given the capacity to fear” stopped me and made me wonder…It’s the times when I’ve been the most fearful, and overcome, that gave me confidence to stand taller – and I’m not talking about spiders, although they make me cringe. Public speaking is a great example. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is something to be said for courage, but cowardice is not a mark of weakness, nor is courage a mark of strength. As you have said, unbridled courage is more like recklessness, and fear IS a strong evolutionary tactic.

    When others label people as cowards, however, I think that the labeller is more of a coward than the labelee.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said. 🙂 I completely agree, Alienora.

    We live in a very patriarchal society. I have often wondered if and to what extent cowardice is confused with dishonor. There’s this persistent but false belief that to be courageous is to act honorably, which is often then used as a way to justify why you deserve things like approval and worthiness. Honestly, the whole idea that worthiness (for instance to be treated kindly or with respect) must be earned by fulfilling some sort of particular and highly subjective conception of how to be in the world just baffles me, besides the fact that I think it’s such a harmful and misguided, inaccurate way to live.

    And, you know, as far back as Aristotle’s time people have argued this point, that true courage isn’t the absence of fear but has everything to do with what you do in response to it. He spends a lot of time in Nicomachean Ethics arguing that lacking fear entirely is just as pernicious to a person’s character as cowardice, – neither extreme gets you anywhere good. The extremes can make you and everyone else miserable. That holds true even given all the myriad variants among cultures, Aristotle’s and far beyond. .

    But that has never stopped people from feeling they have the right to belittle or insult others for being afraid and showing it. And the crazy thing about it is, if a person really feels the need to put someone else down so they can feel better about themselves, then they’re letting their own fears and insecurities get the better of them.

    Keep shining!

    Liked by 1 person

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