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Courage

  • Courage can't see around corners, but goes around them anyway.

  • If you are brave too often, people will come to expect it of you.

  • The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.

  • ... in true courage there is always an element of choice, of an ethical choice, and of anguish, and also of action and deed. There is always a flame of spirit in it, a vision of some necessity higher than oneself.

  • Our worst foes are not belligerent circumstances, but wavering spirits ...

  • There is plenty of courage among us for the abstract but not enough for the concrete ...

  • Any coward can fight a battle when he's sure of winning; but give me the man who has pluck to fight when he's sure of losing. That's my way, sir; and there are many victories worse than a defeat.

    • George Eliot,
    • "Janet's Repentance," Scenes of Clerical Life ()
  • Necessity does the work of courage.

  • I would not creep along the coast, but steer / Out in mid-sea, by guidance of the stars.

  • Oh, no, I'm not brave. When a thing is certain, there's nothing to be brave about. All you can do is to find your consolation.

  • He had fancied himself free from illusion, if on no other subject, at least on that of his own courage — confusing courage, perhaps, with fearlessness.

  • ... with courage a human being is safe enough. And without it — he is never for one instant safe!

  • So many of the models of courage we've had, ones that are still taught to boys and girls, are about going out to slay the dragon, to kill. It's a courage that's born out of fear, anger, and hate. But there's this other kind of courage. It's the courage to risk your life, not in war, not in battle, not out of fear ... but out of love and a sense of injustice that has to be challenged. It takes far more courage to challenge unjust authority without violence than it takes to kill all the monsters in all the stories told to children about the meaning of bravery.

  • It's still easier to take a blow from outside than it is to be disgusted with myself for not taking a stand. I don't know how people can live and not fight back but apparently millions do. They must hate themselves.

  • When you get to the end of your rope — tie a knot in it and hang on.

  • You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face ... You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

  • Courage is the only Magick worth having.

  • I have met brave women who are exploring the outer edge of human possibility, with no history to guide them, and with a courage to make themselves vulnerable that I find moving beyond words.

  • Resolve to be merry though the ship were sinking.

  • Courage, it would seem, is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good; that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding; and that there is always a tomorrow.

  • It was the face of an earnest noble woman, who had asked God what He wanted her to do, and then hadn't shirked out of doin' it. Who had gripped holt of life's plough, and hadn't looked back because the furrows turned over pretty hard, and the stumps was thick.

  • It is easy enough to be pleasant / When life flows by like a song, / But the man worth while is the one who will smile / When everything goes dead wrong.

  • To be brave in misfortune is to be worthy of manhood; to be wise in misfortune is to conquer fate.

  • No life is so hard that you can't make it easier by the way you take it.

  • [Her] spirit of fortitude has triumphed over the sense of futility.

  • The fearless make their own way ...

  • Fear binds people together. And fear disperses them. Courage inspires communities: the courage of an example — for courage is as contagious as fear. But courage, certain kinds of courage, can also isolate the brave.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "On Courage and Resistance," At the Same Time ()
  • It is only in his head that man is heroic; in the pit of his stomach he is always a coward.

  • Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1941, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 3 ()
  • Courage is like a disobedient dog, once it starts running away it flies all the faster for your attempts to recall it.

  • Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.

  • ... the faithfulness I can imagine would be a weed / flowering in tar, a blue energy piercing / the massed atoms of a bedrock disbelief.

    • Adrienne Rich,
    • "When We Dead Awaken," Diving Into the Wreck ()
  • Anyone who has gumption knows what it is, and any one who hasn't can never know what it is. So there is no need of defining it.

  • Your courage was a small coal / that you kept swallowing.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Courage," The Awful Rowing Toward God ()
  • I may be arrested, I may be tried and thrown into jail, but I never will be silent.

  • In each experience of my life, I have had to step out of one little space of the known light, into a large area of darkness. I had to stand awhile in the darkness, and then gradually God has given me light. But not to linger in. For as soon as that light has felt familiar, then the call has always come to step out ahead again into new darkness.

  • But how cool, how quiet is true courage!

  • ... I am a writer who came of a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.

  • Better die standing, than live kneeling.

  • It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!

  • But fearlessness is not the absence of fear. It's the mastery of fear. It's all about getting up one more time than you fall down.

  • Fearlessness is the mother of reinvention.

  • Do what you are afraid to do.

  • Only yield when you must; / Never 'give up the ship,' / But fight on to the last / 'With a stiff upper lip!'

    • Phoebe Cary,
    • "Keep a Stiff Upper Lip," The Poetical Works of Alice and Phoebe Cary ()
  • And though hard be the task, / 'Keep a stiff upper lip!'

    • Phoebe Cary,
    • "Keep a Stiff Upper Lip," The Poetical Works of Alice and Phoebe Cary ()
  • ... courage is a word for others to use about us, not something we can seek for ourselves.

  • ... a lot of people have been telling me how brave I am. I've always thought it was a mistake to get a reputation for courage, on the grounds that if you acted bravely once, people would expect you to act courageously again, and you might be having an off day.

  • I have been through the depths of poverty and sickness. When people ask me what has kept me going through the troubles that come to all of us, I always reply: 'I stood yesterday. I can stand today. And I will not permit myself to think about what might happen tomorrow.'

    • Dorothy Dix,
    • in Dorothy Dix, ed., Dale Carnegie's Scrapbook ()
  • There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.

  • Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.

  • No coward soul is mine ...

    • Emily Brontë,
    • in Charlotte Brontë, ed., "Selections From the Literary Remains of Ellis and Acton Bell," memorial edition of Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey ()
  • Real guts are nothing more than developing your inner voice to the point where it is louder and stronger than the voice of your fear.

  • I'm not a brave person ... except in my imagination. There I am valiant, noble, and steadfast. In reality, I whine when I get a cold.

  • The best heroes in the world are the reluctant ones. Courage isn't fearlessness — it's acting in the face of fear.

  • There is nothing to compare with the courage of ordinary people whose names are unknown and whose sacrifices pass unnoticed. The courage that dares without recognition, without the protection of media attention, is a courage that humbles and inspires and reaffirms our faith in humanity.

  • ... this is what I know about courage: You don't have to think about courage to have it. You don't have to feel courageous to be courageous. You don't sit down and say you're going to be courageous. At the moment of action, you don't see it as a courageous act. Courage is the most hidden thing from your eye or mind until after it's done. There's some inner something that tells you what's right. You know you have to do it to survive as a human being. You have no choice.

  • ... nerve, not talent, is the one necessary and sufficient trait for success. (Wouldn't it be ideal if it were talent? But talent with no nerve is like the sound of one hand clapping.)

  • The bravest thing to do when you are not brave is to profess courage and act accordingly.

  • When you have nothing to lose you have everything to gain.

  • Courage is the ladder on which all the other virtues mount.

  • [On the way to the guillotine:] Courage! I have shown it for years; think you I shall lose it at the moment when my sufferings are to end?

  • The brave man is not he who feels no fear, / For that were stupid and irrational; / But he, whose noble soul its fear subdues, / And bravely dares the danger nature shrinks from.

  • Fearlessness at twenty springs from not knowing what challenges lie ahead. Fearlessness at fifty comes from having wrestled with life's challenges and learned from them.

  • Courage is rarely reckless or foolish ... courage usually involves a highly realistic estimate of the odds that must be faced.

  • [When told of a threat to burn down the hall in which she was to speak:] Then I will speak upon the ashes.

    • Sojourner Truth,
    • 1862, in Olive Gilbert, Narrative of Sojourner Truth ()
  • Like gaining confidence, finding one's courage is gradual rather than all at once.

  • Courage is not afraid to weep, and she is not afraid to pray, even when she is not sure who she is praying to.

  • Courage and clemency are equal virtues.

  • Courage calls to courage everywhere, and its voice cannot be denied.

  • To be afraid and to be brave is the best kind of courage of all.

  • ... you become courageous by doing courageous acts.

  • Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace. / The soul that knows it not, knows no release / From little things: / Knows not the livid loneliness of fear, / Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear / The sound of wings.

    • Amelia Earhart,
    • "Courage" (1927), in Helen Ferris, ed., Five Girls Who Dared ()
  • A brave man is seldom unkind.

    • Pretty-shield,
    • in Frank Bird Linderman, Pretty-Shield, Medicine Woman of the Crows ()
  • ... there was nothing like necessity to supply a lack of nerve.

  • Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can changed until it is faced.

    • Leora Ask,
    • in Jean Van Dyke, ed., Words to Live By ()
  • I am not afraid ... I was born to do this.

    • Joan of Arc,
    • 1429, in Edward Lucie-Smith, Joan of Arc ()
  • If I had one wish for my children, it would be that each of you would dare to do the things and reach for goals in your own lives that have meaning for you as individuals, doing as much as you can for everybody, but not worrying if you don't please everyone.

    • Lillian Carter,
    • in Lillian Carter and Gloria Carter Spann, Away From Home: Letters to My Family ()
  • ... I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.

  • Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'

  • People have the natural capacity to affirm and embrace life in the most difficult of circumstances.

  • But courage without conduct is the virtue of a robber, or a tyrant.

  • ... you cannot confuse bravery or courage with lack of fear. Real courage, true bravery is doing things in spite of fear, knowing fear.

  • Courage has become Raiders of the Lost Ark, or riding in spaceships, killing people, taking enormous physical risks. To me, the kind of courage that's really interesting is someone whose spouse has Alzheimer's and yet manages to wake up every morning and be cheerful with that person and respectful of that person and find things to enjoy even though their day is very, very difficult. That kind of courage is really undervalued in our culture.

    • Mary Pipher,
    • in Katherine Martin, Women of Courage ()
  • Courage is very important. Like a muscle, it is strengthened by use.

  • The most courageous people in the world are the people who go on after their children have died.

  • It isn't courageous to go forth when you don't know the dangers. But it's very courageous to go forth when you do.

  • It's better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life.

  • Courage is as often the outcome of despair as hope; in the one case we have nothing to lose, in the other all to gain.

  • Courage is like a strain of yoghurt culture, if you have some you can have some more.

  • [To the House of Representatives before casting the only vote against allowing George W. Bush to use 'all necesary and appropriate force' in response to 9/11:] We must be careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target. We cannot repeat past mistakes.

  • Bravery is not being afraid to be afraid.

  • Bravery and fearlessness have nothing akin to recklessness or heedless disregard of consequences.

  • I knew I would never be a tough girl. And yet the phrase, with its implied contradiction, articulated everything I wanted for myself. To be a girl, an inherently vulnerable position. And yet, unafraid.

  • It sometimes requires courage to fly from danger.

  • We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it as not as dreadful as it appears, discovering that we have the strength to stare it down.