Physical courage is a rare virtue but moral courage is rarer. Physical courage may at times wears a false glitter, appearing as bravado or even desperation. But there is no mistaking moral courage. It is inseparable from sacrifice and spiritual exaltation.
One form of this courage is readiness to own one’s mistake, common rim of people seek pretexts or alibis. The Indian politician today is an adept at the game. He pays lip-service to Gandhi but for and conveniently so, that Gandhi’s greatness lay in his frank avowal; mistake. The Non-cooperation movement had been launched and vv« its peak. It was a nonviolent movement, but at Chauri Chaura some violent incidents took place, Gandhi accused himself of an error of judger and suspended the movement. He was criticized but he stood his ground. He penalized himself by undertaking a fast for self-purification.
The boyhood of some great men reveals that moral courage was 1 breath of their nostrils. George Washington as a boy displayed this quality. He was given an axe as a prize. He got so much drunk with, performance that he lopped off the tender plants as well as the twig the trees in his father’s garden. In the evening when the father visited: garden he became furious at the depredation. Just then George entered and without a moment’s hesitation, confessed his fault and volunteered himself for punishment. His moral courage disarmed the anger of his father.
Young Jawaharlal was less lucky. Finding two fountain pens on: father’s table, he helped himself to one of them A frantic search was i and the young Jawahar owned up his guilt. He got a beating but: better for his confession.
Gandhi’s moral courage filled every fiber of his being when in i Africa, he was shocked at the discriminatory and humiliating treat meted out to Indians. The shock became greater when he saw that i victims of the treatment did not protest in the least. Gandhi’s sensitive soul would not put up with it and almost single-handed he create climate of protest. He emboldened these invertebrate persons v.i gradually learnt how to fight the tyrant. Gandhi made heroes out of clay.
Once again we think of Gandhi’s moral courage when he walked the streets of Noakhali preaching non-violence and appealing for communal amity. The air was thick with poison and retaliation. The stoutest he quaked and shuddered, but Gandhi with a moral courage which was greater when the challenge was greater, trod the thorns and little by little crushed them.
But there is no knowing when the moral courage may go by default. Peter was the favorite disciple of Christ and was always with him through thick and thin. However, when Christ was arrested and hauled up for crucifixion, some woman pointed her finger at Peter and said “This man was with him (Christ).” Peter flatly denied any association with the Master and thereby saved his skin.
Individual moral courage is the rarest of virtues. But sometimes miracles happen and a whole community displays moral courage of a high order. Probably India alone can provide illustration of this miracle. The Bardoli Satyagraha is a brilliant chapter in the history of our freedom movement. The Collector of Bardoli levied an additional tax on the peasants of this Taluka, probably by way of punishment for the people’s participation in the non-cooperation movement.
Under the leadership of Sardar Patel the peasants organized themselves for a no-tax campaign. The authorities came down on them with a heavy hand. Their lands were attached and sold for a song. The peasants were put behind the bars. They were starved and belabored. But Patel had galvanized them in such a way that they bore everything with cheer. They won in the end.