What, then, is the courage befitting a man? A man’s true courage rises from his heart and infuses his spirit. It strengthens him to fight for what matters, or to choose not to fight. To be the fifth of his line who attends the academy, or to be the first in the family who will not go. One kind of courage leaves his warm bed and cries out Who goes there? in the darkened night. Another peers into his darkened soul and poses the question Who lives here? Courage can be quiet. Courage can be still. A courageous man walks into the Vet Center and announces This is a cry for help, and lets another man hold him close while he cries. He pours his feelings onto paper and then reads his poems out loud to a roomful of strangers. Dances across stage in his wheelchair. Puts down the bottle for the last time. What courage has a man who will tear away the chains that have held him for so long and find the freedom to loudly proclaim Here I am! A man is justly honored when we recognize the courageous acts he has met in life, and not just the courage he may meet at death’s door.
Excerpted from What There is to Love About A Man, by Rachel Snyder (Sourcebooks, 1999). This book is currently out-of-print, though limited used and imperfect copies may be bought for cheap right here at amazon.com and other places.