A talk on moral courage is important in a world that currently needs a moral revolution. But what does moral courage entail?
Moral courage is the ability to act according to higher morals in the face of opposition. This opposition may be personal, social, or political. Many religious traditions contain heroes through which lessons on moral courage are taught. For example, Jesus continued to practice his beliefs despite the strong opposition he received. Also, Siddhartha Gautama, more commonly known as Buddha, sat beneath a bodhi tree and attained enlightenment despite the symbolic forces that attempted to raid his consciousness.
In modern times, people continue to be inspired by morally courageous heroes such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Dalai Lama. All of these figures have stood strong in their truths despite social and political opposition.
Running on moral courage
We all have our inner hero that yearns to break free and stand for something. Unfortunately, the world is very good at convincing us that everything is fine— that there’s nothing to stand for. As we gain wisdom on our paths, we see how incredibly untrue this sentiment is.
The truth is, the world is drenched in hunger, war, poverty, and illness. But without the darkness, we wouldn’t know the light. As long as we choose to take a stand our lives will, in fact, feel more meaningful.
Yet running on moral courage isn’t only about meaning. Running on moral courage is about selfless love, or wanting good for others and the world at large without holding any self-serving ambitions.
When Gandhi used his moral courage to liberate India, he was thinking about the well-being of the country at large. When Martin Luther King Jr. used his moral courage to help liberate African Americans from segregation, he was thinking about his fellow people.
So how exactly can we tap into our moral courage to transform ourselves and the world?
Running on moral courage begins with inner-knowledge
We’re all incredible people. We all have the seeds of love, compassion, and creative genius within us. What’s more, we all have the opportunity to tap into these traits for the benefit of ourselves and all beings.
Tapping into our moral courage is about first tapping into who we are. Self-discovery is a necessary process to decipher what our morals really are. Once we become passionate about our beliefs, the courage aspect will come naturally.
Here are some ways to tap into your inner moral compass.
- Asking ourselves large, important questions is an essential step toward establishing who we are morally. For example: “Why am I here on Earth?” or “What is it that I truly love?” or “What is it humanity needs most?” Such large questions may seem overwhelming to take on— but that’s where journaling and meditation comes in
- .Journaling can help us unravel the truth within us that is getting closer to coming out through our questioning. A good way to go about this journaling is to focus on times we’ve felt most alive. By bringing awareness to these times and jotting notes about them, we can bring an entirely new layer of who we are to the surface.
- Meditating will also help us in our pursuit of inner-knowledge. Meditating is the ultimate way to discover our deepest aspirations. When meditating, we’re essentially turning our full attention inward in replacement for excess stimulation. This is necessary since we’re often led astray from ourselves through television, politics, social media, and other means of instant gratification.
Having the courage to grow
I lived with a good friend of mine during our undergraduate years in Central California. He was studying environmental engineering, wanting to make a difference, but his career path wasn’t leading him where he wanted to go and he became increasingly unhappy.
On a hike one day, my friend suddenly announced that he was leaving to go study Yoga in India. He had already bought tickets and made arrangements. All was settled. He was going. As surprised and unsure about the decision as I was, I congratulated him for his courage to grow toward what he yearned for.
Later, my friend explained to me that the decision was based on his increasing stress and dissatisfaction with his course work. At the time, I couldn’t blame him— I barely saw him around those days.
He was soon to leave despite the resistance from his parents who wanted him to follow a conventional path for financial gain.
Morals aren’t only about standing up for injustice. They’re about standing up for ourselves when needed. Nonetheless, my friend did pursue the path of Yoga to help a world of people often sprawling unconsciously through life. And from a birds-eye view, when considering the current world paradigm, it was quite a rebellious act.
Using your aspirations to run on moral courage
Using your passion in life is essential for running on moral courage. My friend, for example, is using his passion, Yoga, to spread love and healing to our world. He’s doing this despite being at odds with his parents and a world where many people refuse to give love a chance. We must use our moral courage in a similar way.
Maybe you’re intending to be a musician. Well, many would agree that there’s much about the world that needs to be said through music. Perhaps you’re set on becoming an entrepreneur. In that case, use as an example the numerous companies that are helping poverty, global warming, and spreading peace.
Whatever you choose— art, business, or whatever else— seek out the ways you can use it to transform the world. In the meantime, know you’re likely to meet some resistance.
Famous author Paulo Coehlo met resistance during his early life when he first discovered running on moral courage. Now famously known for writing The Alchemist, he was a songwriter during his earlier years. Also during those years, a dictatorship plagued Brazil and Coelho began writing lyrics against the government.
Despite being placed in a mental asylum by his parents and later being captured by the government, Coehlo persisted in his writing and is a famous author today. Not only is he a renowned writer, but his books instill people with a sense of purpose and self-knowledge as well.
Overall, when taking on moral courage, be sure it’s through an activity and passion you resonate with. Then you’ll be able to defy all odds to create sweeping change not only in your own life, but to the lives of others.
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Jacob Lopez Wellness aficionado, traveler, and holistic ulcerative colitis warrior based in Huntington Beach.
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