October 02, 2013

Courage vs. heroism

I hit the road for several days today, including what the composer(s) of Beowulf might call "the bird road," which consisted of a lengthy stint in and around airports and airplanes.

At such times, it's important to have good reading matter. While dropping by a public library yesterday, I saw an intriguing book titled Smile at Strangers and Other Lessons in the Art of Living Fearlessly by Susan Schorn. The author and I have something in common in that both of us found our life path in a karate dojo and applied what we learned there in other parts of our lives.

Midway through the book, she makes an interesting distinction between courage and heroism. In the context of discussing the art of intervening to prevent violence, she said the following:

...we tend to want to act heroically against violence, when more often, what's needed is simple courage. The difference is plain. Heroics make you look cool. Courage more often makes you look silly, at least puts you at risk of looking that way.
I think she might be on to something.


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