The Warrior’s Courage
Cervantes wrote that, “The man of true valor lies between the extremes of cowardice and rashness.” Cowardice and rashness are indeed the two extremes of courage. Cowardice is a lack of courage. It is allowing fear to overcome you and cause you to falter at the time of action. Rashness, on the other hand, is being reckless, impulsive, and moving forward without giving any thought to the situation.
The one thing that both cowardice and rashness have in common is that when someone acts from either of these extremes, he is letting his emotions control his actions, not rational thought, and definitely not courage. To be courageous, a man has to be thoughtful. Francesco Guicciardini wrote, “Only the wise are brave. Others are either temerarious or foolhardy. Thus, we can say that every brave man is wise, but not that every wise man is brave.”
From this point of view, we can compare courage to honor in that, it is not that easy for an outsider to judge whether or not a man is being courageous, just as it is not obvious whether or not a man is acting out of a sense of honor. If you will recall, some actions may seem dishonorable from an outside point of view, which, if we were privy to the man’s thoughts and intentions, would prove to be very honorable. The same principle can apply to courage.
There are some actions which, when initially seen, may seem like acts of cowardice, but when examined closer, were truly courageous acts. At the same time, there are some actions which seem like very courageous acts, but if we were able to see beyond the obvious, we would understand that the action was not truly an act of courage at all.
(Excerpt from Modern Bushido: Living a Life of Excellence)