A few nights ago Caitlyn Jenner, the gold medal decathlon winner formally known as Bruce Jenner, received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPY’s. It seems that this individual has wrestled with identity his whole life. Feeling like a female while being given the anatomical makeup of a male, a few months ago the move was made to begin dressing as a female and living as a female. For this, he received an award for courage.
What is courage? In my younger years I believed that being courageous meant that someone gave up their own comfort for a great cause, or someone ran into the line of fire to save the life of someone else or others, or that someone lived the life of a pauper because this was what was necessary to accomplish an seemingly impossible dream.
As I grew older I began to realize that courage was, no matter what someone was doing or sacrificing, moving forward when every emotion in that individual was crying out, “If you move forward you will experience pain, emotional trauma, or death.”
As I’ve continued to mature, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is every person’s responsibility to do what is best for the community of people they are part of, moreso than than doing what is best for each of us individually. I now understand that courage also begins with asking, “How will my decision affect the community I’ve been placed in and is my decision self-focused or focused on what is best for the community I’m part of?”, then doing what is best for the community even when it isn’t best for me personally.
We see this mentality in the lives of Moses, Abraham, Nehemiah, Esther, David, the apostles of Jesus and every follower of Christ since who embraces what it means to be a working part of the Body of Christ. Mostly, we see this in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
But it seems that embracing our own inner desires at the cost of the greater community is now deemed courageous. It seems that there are no longer any moral codes that keep a society on the same page and so, whatever is internally determined by each individual to be best for them, is courageous. It seems that there is no longer any concern for how a decision one makes affects the community in which a person has been placed, whether that be the family unit they are in, the circle of friends they are part of, the church they are to glorify God with, or the next generation they are role models for. In today’s society it seems that what each of us determines is best for us has been determined to be what is best for everyone else and that anyone who allows their deepest longings to control them is a courageous person.
I’m wondering… What is courage in the year 2015? What do you think?