Foundation of Growth

Maya Angelou said that: “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

Courage, in its physical sense, has always been a necessary requirement for survival. However, modern times require humans to exhibit “intellectual” courage, regardless of the cost to reputation, status, or lack of conformity. Intellectual courage means not only having an opinion, and contributing to the greater conversation, but also asking hard questions that can make others uncomfortable. It also means striving to meet others where they are, and engaging intellectually in a way that encourages our own growth.

American human rights activist Maggie Kuhn said: “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.” In reality, this usually doesn’t mean going into battle, but it does mean seeking truth, in whatever shape or path it takes.

In Christian cultures, specifically fundamentalist backgrounds, questioning can be viewed as confrontational and disrespectful, when often, the opposite is the case. Authentic questioning from a place of truth is the only way to find deep meaning and significance.

Not allowing room for questions puts believers in a vulnerable place, psychologically and sociologically. In the political realm, passivity turns “believers” into pawns, to be manipulated – useful, but powerless. Even when the outcome is not likely to be in one’s favor, contributing courageously is intrinsically more important than any other virtue, in regard to living with integrity.

In To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch says: “Courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.” Speaking truth into a variety of contexts means that we are always growing, choosing to move beyond the “fixed” mental state, to experience the inner calm that comes with risk, growth, and walking in the light.