Courage is of two kinds: physical and moral. The farmer is common to both man and beast; but the latter belongs to man alone.
Courage comes from the strength of mind or will. Physical courage depends on one’s physical strength. A weak; and sickly person is hardly seen to be physically courageous. Because his ill health does not permit him to take an aggressive view in life, although he may be mentally bold. But a person, who is bold and strong, both in body and mind, is normally found to be courageous.
The question of physical courage arises in the event of any danger or difficulty that suddenly appears, when immediate protection or security from that fear of massacre or destruction demands physical courage.
If a sudden fire breaks out in a house, or a dacoit is going to take place, physical courage becomes absolutely necessary in such critical moments. Without physical resistance with indomitable courage, it becomes impossible to save the situation.
But moral courage is in no way inferior to the physical courage. It is, on the contrary, more important and glorious to possess moral courage. Moral courage is very rare. It is f0undl in one in a million.
There are numerous instances where people have bravely used their physical courage and saved the life of a drowning man, or a house from burning in fire, by jumping courageously into the scene of danger.
But there are few cases, where the common people are found to open their mouth against an unfair or unjust deed that they witness, because they lack moral courage. They are cowards without a backbone.
Noble may be the cause in which physical courage is shown; but nobler is the cause in which moral courage is displayed. Moral courage comes from a firm conviction that the possessor has in him. Let us take the case of Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar who is known for his noble character and moral courage.
The man was highly educated, but hardly with any extraordinary physical strength; yet he was endowed with tremendous moral courage. He did not hesitate to raise his voice of protest or even insult the wicked Europeans who used to rule the country then with enormous power.
He had also ignored all sorts of humiliation in the hands of his own countrymen, when he was determined to get the Bill for ‘Hindu Widow Re-marriage’ passed by the Government. That goes to show his wonderful determination, moral courage and noble character.
Galileo, the great scientist, had also to suffer imprisonment in his old age for the sake of his conviction. Men of moral courage never barter away their conscience, but put it before liberty, before reputation, even before life. They think of no danger, nor of death, when the alternative is a disgrace.
They hate more to live as cowards than to face prosecution, imprisonment or death. It is these men who are the true makers of history. It is they who live in honour, die in glory, and have the privileges of being adored by all.