Barack Obama announced yesterday he was sending 3000 troops in to support West Africa in the midst of the current outbreak of Ebola. In my book, every one of those troops deserves a medal for bravery right now just for making the decision to go. Because the thing is Ebola doesn’t discriminate between those sent in to help and the civilians on the ground. It will strike anyone down. The doctors and aid workers, the troops and engineers, the journalists covering the tragedy as it unfolds, all at risk themselves as they seek to help control the epidemic.
One of the saddest things to grasp is because it spreads through human contact, they can’t even meet the basic human need for touch. No hugs to reassure the children they are treating. No holding a dying person’s hand. Just too dangerous. It’s a horror hard to imagine.
So what does it take to make such a decision? To be willing to go into the outbreak zone and put your life on the line for others.
Among other things, I think it takes great courage.
At its core, courage is all about having heart. It’s about the willingness to act according to our values despite the presence of fear. It’s not about a lack of fear. It is about judging what is most important and then acting on that realisation. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway for the greater good.
Fortunately for most of us in our rather more sheltered corner of the world, the courage we need on a daily basis is not life-threatening even though it might feel that way. And while we may not be called upon to put our lives on the line, there are many times in our life where we must dig deep and find our courage in the face of adversity. After all, life is full of challenges and many of them will take great courage to overcome.
Next time you need to dig deep and find that courage, perhaps it might help to put it in perspective. Just turn on the news any given night for a bit of that.
Do you have the courage to live according to your values?