Courage and politics.

27 Dec

Quint Buccholz Five


“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
― Anaïs Nin

If there’s one thing I’d like to have the power to give to the people I love, especially the little ones, it’s courage.

The courage to challenge cultural conditioning and social convention. The courage to allow oneself to see that “normality” is a construct and to ask, by whom is this concept constructed, for whose benefit, and how?

The courage to refuse the lazy tribal sense of belonging in order to embrace a more challenging sense of common humanity that does not require exclusionary practices in order to define a sense of who we are. I am not that therefore I am this, is a negative way in which to carve out an identity, yet the spoken or unspoken comparison that loads difference with moral value, or lack of it, serves as a benchmark for establishing who we are, singly and collectively.

I can’t see much of a future for humans without the kind of courage that is curious about difference, rather than fearful and hostile towards it. The former is expansion, the latter an arid shrinking, of the kind we’ve seen increasingly in Australia since our politics, both Labor and Liberal, have become more and more conservative.

Our courage, at least as it is expressed in our politics, has diminished alarmingly. Whether it’s asylum seekers in indefinite and tortuous detention because we will not resettle them; whether it’s our inability to recognise and adequately act upon our responsibilities towards the earth that is our only home; whether it’s increasing surveillance of ordinary citizens along with the deprivation of freedoms and human rights, the insidious creep of tyranny, wearing the mask of concern and wish to protect, is shrinking our lives, and we seem to lack the collective courage necessary first to acknowledge what’s happening to us, and second, to do something concrete about it.

I’m not the first to observe that without courage it’s hardly possible to be truthful, generous, realistic and imaginative, and without courage, it’s impossible to live a life of necessary self-examination, curiosity and fulfilment.

Lack of courage is what will destroy our species. It’s only a matter of time.








15 Responses to “Courage and politics.”

  1. Dave Chaffey Hippie December 27, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

    I agree but am more optimistic about our future. I’m pretty confident that technology and the scientific method are and will continue to cure the human condition. But there is much for us all to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. paul walter December 28, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

    Is there a rational, let alone pain free, way to shape character?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) December 29, 2015 at 7:30 am #

    I am experiencing a difficulty in addressing this article that is in inverse proportion to its length.

    One thing that worries me is as to how courage is distinguished from bravado, especially in the context of politics, before the relevant events in train being questioned move to their erstwhile likely foreseeable conclusion.

    Can latent courage be identified in a person in advance of a circumstance that may serve to elicit it? And if so, can such be covertly actively selected OUT from that which, from time to time, constitutes the political firmament?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson December 29, 2015 at 9:37 am #

      TBH, Forrest, I’m cynical enough to think it’s always bravado in politics and very, very rarely courage, especially in the major parties.

      It’s possible to detect characteristics in people, but how often projection and wishful thinking colours the detection is an unknown factor. I made a dreadful error in taking someone’s initial action as courageous, only to discover it to be entirely not, when it was far too late, so, it’s hit and miss, imo.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. paul walter December 29, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

    I like this little thread. It is a civilised thread, but beneath the surface some interesting problems arise, preconditions of conditions relating to preconditionality itself, you could say with a smirk.

    So much we think we know, in my case so little known. Probably just as well.

    I wonder what Stuart Hase would make of the descriptor courage, for example, or the Dawkinsites with their concepts of evolutionarily developed traits that we can find no better way of explaining than through dubious terms like love or courage or cowardice. Where does the experience of showing courage acheive meaning and fulfilment for someone? Does it mean that much as to resolution, or was that courage I showed the other day actually just a biological sequence, following a script, that induced endorphin release and a healthy glow that I mistook (?) for a sense of accomplishment? If there were no God, or some godly purpose, would a brave act still be beautiful, or have anything in value and meaning beyond a personal response?

    It is interesting that Socrates is said to have claimed that it is harder for people to do wrong than right and this is where I would start if I wanted to think on issues like this:
    If it is harder to do wrong than right how have so many people sweaty brows (if they are like me) and nothing to show for all the scheming, yet innocent folk who take risks get by, some times at a profit, for having the energy spare to achieve constructive as well as self delusionary things.

    Politics is a pointed marker in Jennifer Wilson’s comment. She is asking if politicians who do the right thing rule or an anomaly. You would only find out the answer to that by kicking out the current politicians and putting an entire new cross section of the community there in their place.

    Personally, I think it would be a disastrous reflection on the quality of humanity, were it to be demonstrated that the rest of us are as bad as the politicians.

    Perhaps this is the pervasive, long term fear that besets all people, the haunting epiphany that the rest of us could be as low as one. It is true that this is something impossible to conjure with, yet but must be faced personfully, before further progress is made.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson December 29, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

      I think Stewart is coming to Star Wars with us tomorrow, so I’ll ask him to comment.

      The difference between wrong and right can be entirely unclear, and what appears to be a courageous act can actually cause awful havoc, so quite how this is resolved, I don’t know.

      Is it entirely subjective? I don’t believe in god or godly purpose, so I can only use the human as my marker and the human is notoriously fallible.

      It isn’t courageous to keep asylum seekers imprisoned and tortured, so some things are obvious.

      I may know more after I’ve seen the movie…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. paul walter December 29, 2015 at 9:07 pm #

    Enjoy. You already know it will be hokum, but it will offer a prospective result that demonstrates the results of altruism though strenuous actions applied in the search for meaningful existance.

    As to refugees, used as they are used, no one can agree more than I and I think a lot of people also agree, for both the cruelty and irrationality involved. Yet whistleblowers are under threat more than ever is going to take huge courage to blow the whistle when creeps like Dutton and Bandis are after you with arbitrary detention and other repressive nonsenses, while the more succeptible less intelligent wanting to run around thumping mossie lovers.

    I love the guts dissenters show me and my spirit is lifted also, but I fear civilisation is leaving it very late to make any meaningful change . Guts doesn’t grow on trees for ressons we well understand, or at least it appears to be the case and it appears only a significant injection of it would fuel genuine change.


  6. LSWCHP December 30, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    For me, Adam Lindsay Gordon said it all…

    Life is mostly froth and bubble
    Two things stand like stone
    Kindness in another’s trouble
    Courage in your own

    I found those words at a difficult time in my life, and they helped me greatly. Now they are taped to my computer monitor at work, and I read them at the start of every day.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. townsvilleblog December 30, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    It seems that courage is in short supply, especially in today’s political system, we have a conservative government cutting our health system to ribbons and also now having a go at our rights and yet the other side of the parliaments remains silent. I have had to find courage several times in my life and it’s not easy for me because I’m shy and withdrawn but when I had to find it I did.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) December 31, 2015 at 6:29 am #

    A serendipitous juxtapositioning of tweeted references to courage and politics. Fur die rekord.



  1. REBLOGGED: Courage and Politics | myzania - January 12, 2016

    […] This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep. […]


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