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Courage v Daring

There is a difference between courage and daring. Both involve taking a risk that could turn out badly in service of achieving an objective. Daring is often employed in the service of gain. Courage is often employed to right a wrong. When Arlen Specter said the Bush domestic wiretapping program “is in flat violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” he was practicing courage. When George Bush authorized domestic wiretapping he was practicing daring.

You can often tell the difference between the two by your feeling response. Daring evokes a feeling of excitement and amazement, like watching a brilliant pass or slam-dunk in a basketball game. Courage evokes a deeper and more complex feeling, gratitude, hope, and admiration come close to putting it into words, but don’t do it justice.\r\n\r\nArlen Specter is challenging his president, his party, and most of the press who insist on covering the issue as a polling and political strategy contest instead of a legal issue related to our governments system of checks and balances. He is obviously doing this in defense of important principals, the rule of law, and separation of powers, and not for personal political reward.

Whether in the context of a family, work, social, or political situation, anyone who takes a courageous risk to make something right others places an implicit demand on others to summon their courage and stand up for what is right. When courage falls on deaf ears tyranny gains the upper hand. When courage becomes contagious anything can happen.\r\n\r\nIn Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery”, all the individuals in a community participate in an annual ritual. Tension gradually builds as the leaders of the community start the ritual and most people participate without questioning. Some voice mild protest and even question whether the ritual should be continued. A few vocal members of the community who support the continuance of the ritual and the community leaders silenced the questioning and mild protesting. All members of the community drew a slip of paper from the box and one individual got the slip with a black mark on it. Everyone else then picks up rocks, that the children have collected, and they stone the looser of the lottery to death.

Everyone who recognizes Arlen Specters courage should feel the call to stand up for what is right and speak out. It is better to get stoned for standing up, than to live in fear, and die knowing you lived your life without courage.

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