Yesterday I posted about one of the six attributes of courage (as defined a Dr. Greenberg in Psychology Today). As I said, I’m not sure I agree that there are six attributes, or two, or 50. But it is as good of a place to start as any.
A second attribute of courage is persevering in the face of adversity. I think this is a no-brainer. It is one of the most-cited attributes that I have seen in my life and in my recent inquiries. One Facebook friend submitted a quote from one of my all-time favorite stories of life, To Kill a Mockingbird. Great American literary hero Atticus Finch told his son, Jem, “Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” That might seem negative, but sometimes life circumstances are negative. What doesn’t have to be negative, however, is our response to adversity.
In fact, in Atticus Finch’s speech about courage to his son, the example of courage was Mrs. Henry Lafayette DuBose, a woman who could best be described as perhaps the meanest old bat who ever drew breath. Mrs. Dubose lived down the street from the Finches, and Atticus highlights this unlikely candidate for a courage award, because she persevered through her own debilitating addiction.
One thing Mrs. DuBose did was accept help. As punishment for Jem’s ugly behavior to Mrs. DuBose, Jem was sentenced to read to the bed-ridden widow. The children learn upon her death that the reading visits, which grew longer and longer, much to the children’s chagrin, were a part of her “therapy,” where she worked to kick her morphine habit. Mean ole’ Mrs. Dubose persevered against one of the most devastating of addictions.
Some people lack the courage for a fight. It’s not their fault, necessarily. Some are struck with mental illness so crippling that they can’t carry on. And some have mental illness that they can control. And some ask for help to persevere through it all.
Some people have the courage to tell others when they are hurting or might hurt themselves. That, my friends, is the greatest act of perseverance through adversity that I can imagine. And I thank God that someone I love recently made that choice over the alternative.
In the words of the late, great Jimmy Valvano (you knew there had to be a basketball reference in here somewhere), “Don’t give up . . . . Don’t ever give up.”
Be the person who asks for help, so you can arm yourself with all the tools available to persevere through the dark periods of life.