Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts. – John Wooden
Courage without a Cape
Most of the time, when we think of heroes, we are drawn to people on screen wearing capes or armored suits. But on July 9th, 2020, 6-year-old Bridger Walker displayed the superpower of courage. Without a cape or a suit! Standing between a bloodthirsty dog and his little sister, Bridger took the brunt of the dog’s ferocity and in turn protected his sister. He required surgery and stitches to repair the damage done to his face. Bridger reminded us that courage knows no age, size, or status, but it begins with the heart to stand for what is right, even at the expense of oneself. What stunned me even more was what Bridger told his dad, “If someone had to die between my sister and me, it should be me.” This, coming from a six-year-old. When we talk of courage, we can learn that we don’t need many resources to deploy this superpower. Through this act of courage, we are also privy to the three previous superpowers of responsibility, calmness, and compassion in previous posts this month. Being only six, Bridger took on the responsibility of big brother seriously. He was calm in the sense that he did not walk away from a frightening circumstance but stepped to it. And his compassion is clearly shown in his willingness to sacrifice himself to protect his sister. He was more interested in his sister’s preservation than self-preservation.
Strands of Courage
There are three strands that I have drawn from Bridger’s heroic act. I believe they can help us weave a life of courage. We may not have to fight off a dog like Bridger. But there are some societal maulers like injustice, corruption, human trafficking, abortion, global poverty, and hunger that are on the prowl. They will require courage to face and fight them head-on. My friend Samson once said, “Courage is elemental to success and wholesome living.” Before we talk about the strands, what does courage mean? Borrowing from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., courage is “the inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles.” This was not only exemplified in Bridger’s act, but it captures men and women who are daily opting to go forward and not allow fear, tragedy, or trauma to quench their zeal for living. Leading with the word “stand” the three strands to weave courage in your life are:
1. Stand Up
Bridger reminded us that courage does not reside with a certain age, intellectual ascension, or wealth status. At the heart of it, courage calls for us to have the willingness to stand up when it is more convenient to sit down and do nothing.
Courage is the magnet that attracts and pulls out our convictions when conveniences tempt us to follow the path of least resistance. A conviction is defined as a deep-seated belief that governs one’s life. Bridger’s conviction to be the one to die in place of his sister drove him to stand between the dog and his sister and bear the brunt of the attack. Courage gives convictions the legs to stand.
2. Stand With
As young as he was, nobody would have blamed Bridger for running away. Most of us would have made a beeline to safety. Bridger did not. He wouldn’t leave his sister in the lurch. He let her know through his courage that she was not alone. Applying courage to stand with someone in difficulty can be all the comfort they need. It must have been such a joy for Bridger’s sister to know she had such a big brother.
Sometimes, all someone needs to know is they are not alone. That we will stand with them in the tailwinds, headwinds, and crosswinds. Our courage to stand with others can also give them the courage and confidence to press on. Who knows, your courage might even help them be courageous enough to stand with someone else and start a chain reaction of courage.
3. Stand Down
For courage to be a regular part of our lives, we must be ready to stand down from fear, selfishness, jealousy, hatred, bigotry, and discrimination. These are courage suppressants. They stifle and suffocate our courage, keeping us dormant and passive instead of active when it matters.
Courage requires selflessness and our world is in dire need of people who will say enough to the above suppressants, and stand regardless of any impending backlash.
Final thought: If you see Bridger’s face, you might be tempted to feel sorry for him. However, hearing the story behind the scars dissipates it. Instead, respect and a newfound hope grow within us that courage can turn the tide in the most challenging time. Be ready for “scars and stitches” when you choose to display the superpower of courage. The courage that is woven into the fabric of everyday life as in Bridger’s case, possesses the strands of standing up, with, or down, regardless of the risks and consequences involved. Courage is what counts!
Keep on Keeping on!