Nightmare ending for miners trapped for 69 days
Mpls/St. Paul StarTribune
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE – After 69 days in a dark, hot purgatory a half-mile underground, the first two of 33 miners ascended to the surface early Wednesday to the cheers of their families and countrymen.
No one is known to have survived as long trapped underground. For the first 17 days, no one even knew whether the men were alive. In the weeks that followed, the world was captivated by their endurance and unity.
The above, and similar headlines, ran in newspapers throughout the world in October, 2010.
The horrendous ordeal that the Chilean miners endured is a sure example of courage. The men and women who fought in Iraq and those still fighting in Afghanistan are indeed courageous. We recognize the courage of our first responders who harnessed their fear and saved hundreds of lives after the collapse of the World Trade Center.
Heroic acts of courage grab our attention. We revel when we hear stories of people reaching out to one another. Most likely very few of us have done anything as heroic as those front and center on the evening news or headlining our morning newspaper. Does this mean we are not courageous?
When my daughter was in elementary school her fear of sharks prevented her from enjoying playful summers in one of our 10,000 lakes. Fear of sharks is not an irrational fear – unless you live in Minnesota where there has never been a recorded shark sighting in our fresh water lakes. Yet, no amount of information convinced her that the lakes were safe from sharks. But, her desire to bob and splash with her friends prompted her to take a courageous step forward and gradually she began playing in the water with no thought of that fish at the top of the underwater food chain.
Was she courageous? Yes, because she bravely made a move to overcome her fear. Courageous people are those who, even if they are frightened, move beyond their fears. Courage is moral strength that allows us to withstand hardships and conquer fear.
Fear is something that exists in all of us. There are no heroes without fear. Being fearless is not required to be courageous; one simply has to move beyond fears. “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”1
When overcoming fears and going against the norm, there are risks involved. There are different types of risks that come about. Someone could risk life or limb while others risk their reputation. Either risk is serious enough that a person must have courage to endure that particular risk.
Courage can occur anytime, anywhere, and often in our everyday lives. Everyone will experience courage no matter how young, old, wise, or foolish. The effects of courage may not always be positive, but they are definitely remembered. Overcoming fears when the odds are against you is a requirement for courage. If you feel afraid to do something but you still do it, you are courageous.
Courage comes in many forms. It is standing up for your beliefs and human rights. Martin Luther King is a good example of bravely taking a stand for civil rights. Today there is the school bully who relentlessly harasses another kid. One day the bullied kid turns and stares directly into the face of the harasser, emphatically shouting, “Leave me alone!” The bully retreats. Courageous are the parents who stand up for the rights of their disabled child. There are those parents who lose a child and must carry on courageously to overcome their hurt and anger.
Ordinary people experience acts of courage. It’s hard to believe that anyone would go through life without experiencing a fear that they overcame. We all have the ability to be courageous.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” 2
Maybe our fear is of failure, rejection, being alone, public speaking, regret or even success. Every time we conquer a fear we have accomplished an act of courage. Courage is trusting when you are afraid.
Faith helps us live a courageous life. A life where God will help us move beyond our fears.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”3
My book and this website are entitled “I Stand With Courage.” My journey to overcome paralysis did not begin with courage. It began with a desire to do the best I could with my handicap. What followed was a desire stronger than the fear of permanent paralysis. My desire was to be a “proper” grandmother. This motivated me to overcome my fear of falling when I stood, or tumbling down a flight of stairs because my legs were weak. Being a grandmother was more important than my fear of mastering my legs.
“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a solider needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”4
May the Lord bless you with the courage to overcome all your fears. You, too, can stand with courage.
1 Mark Twain; 2 Eleanor Roosevelt; 3 Ambrose Redmoon; 4 Ralph Waldo Emerson