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!’