What’s courage?

“You’re hurt and you want to stop? But we are just about to begin! Get up on your quads right now, you bunch of wimps!” Credit: Will Argunas.

I’ve been thinking a lot about courage in the last few days. A little over a year ago, I wrote about bravery. I said this:

I don’t think that brave feels brave. We imagine that bravery feels powerful- feels like facing your demons, overcoming them and triumphing.

I don’t think it’s supposed to feel strong. Not all the time, anyway. I think the bravest things we do are when we feel weak. Those times when you feel tiny and scared, when you don’t know how you’ll get through that thing you have to do, when you can’t look more than one step or moment ahead and in that tininess and shaking and nausea or whatever it is you somehow take that step and do a thing? When you’re a goddamn mess and the smallest thing is everything you can do?

That’s a hell of a lot braver than squared jaws, narrowed eyes and confident stares.

This feels relevant.

Murdering people who can’t fight back- even if you know you’ll give up your life for it in the end- isn’t brave. It’s cowardice. Pathetic, repugnant cowardice. It doesn’t matter if you’re shooting people in a school or a movie theater or a concert hall or a summer camp. I don’t care if you’re doing it for notoriety, martyrdom or a twisted idea of politics. I don’t care if you strap a bomb to yourself or fire one out of a plane. If you kill people who can’t fight back, you’re a coward. Continue reading “What’s courage?”

What’s courage?

Paris, Beirut, all of it: I’ve no snappy title for you today.

I know that I should say something. I can’t think of anything else to say. My heart has felt heavy since Friday night. Since my friend went into the bathroom halfway through dinner and I popped open my phone to idle away the few minutes. As you do.

It feels like we have to have an opinion. We have to have the right opinion. We have to have it now. But I don’t know what opinions to have. I don’t know what the right thing to think is.

We keep hearing that it is wrong to grieve Paris more than Beirut. And yes, I understand that. Yes. I understand that a Lebanese life is every bit as valuable as a Parisian. I understand that deep, unjust wells of inequality and racism run through our responses to tragedy. I understand how blisteringly unfair it is that when hundreds of people die in one city the world stops in its tracks, but when hundreds are murdered in another we shake our head, sigh and move on.

But when I saw the news about Paris it wasn’t just a tragedy in a city far away. I wasn’t thinking about the world or our structures of power and unfairness. When I saw the news about Paris my stomach dropped. I picked up my phone.

Are you okay? I heard the news- are you safe?!” Continue reading “Paris, Beirut, all of it: I’ve no snappy title for you today.”

Paris, Beirut, all of it: I’ve no snappy title for you today.