Is it courage if it’s not a choice?


I wrote a paper in high school about courage and my argument was that you’re really not courageous if you had no choice in the matter. For example, just because I have a disability doesn’t mean I’m courageous simply because I continue to live my life. I’m no more courageous than an able bodied person who gets up every morning and does the same thing I do.

It’s one of those funny “compliments” people give me on occasion. I know they mean well but it’s not the word I’d use to describe my attitude or my decisions in how I approach my disorder.

I mean, really, is it courageous for me to get out of bed, take a shower, brush my teeth and get dressed? No. It’s everyday life. There’s no courage involved. It might appear to be courageous from an outsider’s perspective, but it’s not. I think sometimes people with disabilities convince themselves that it is courageous to simply do these everyday tasks. This is fine if that helps catapult them into achieving other great things, but alas there are many people who then feel entitled to sit back and do nothing just because they got out of bed. If you can get out of bed on your own, you can do something more. I see examples of this all the time with disabled people achieving great things.

To me, courage is a choice to go above and beyond what everyone else does. Choosing to be a soldier or a police officer or a firefighter and risking your life to benefit or protect others is courageous.

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