Friday, June 30, 2006


"To see what is right, and not to do it, is want of courage or of principle."

Confucius (551 BC - 479 BC)

After all said and done, courage does not matter if it is not accompanied by sound planning and timing. Tactless courage is suicidal. Courage used without proper timing is also suicidal. Without paying due attention to timing and planning, courage comes to nothing. We have seen so much courage and human potential go waste when we act in spur of the moment without taking time to count at least 10. It would be better if we can count 1000.

At the risk of sounding selfish, it is also necessary to listen to WIFM (what is in it for me?). Giving one's life, sacrifice etc. sound good but what is it worth to you. If you are principled enough to fall prey to the bullets of a terrorist when you see a bunch of terrorists committing atrocities, by all means go and confront the terrorist who is armed to teeth and you with nothing. People with smart courage wait for right timing. In this case, smart courage means to make a mental note of as much information as possible about the terrorists and surroundings, committing it  to memory and then informing  authorities so that they can use your valuable information to act smartly.

Gandhi is one of the best examples I can think of for sustained courage. If Gandhi were to act in a foolhardy way, he would have met the same fate of Bhagat Singh or other freedom fighters who chose violence as the means to get the freedom. They made one or two big bangs but by using their courage in a wrong way, their life was cut short. Gandhi followed a meticulous way of nonviolence. He would not give up but would not use violence to create a wrong public opinion of his objective. His courage changed the world opinion and turned winds against British empire.

Take more recent example of 'Intifada' or struggle from common people in occupied territories of Palestine. After PLO had retreated to Tunis after being driven out of Lebanon and before that  from Jordan, people who were facing real problems took the struggle into their own hands. PLO leaders living outside of Palestine were out of touch. To make things worse they were  getting only bad publicity by staging occasional acts of  terrorism such as hijackings and bombings. Intifada was a struggle fought  with rocks. It was not something as sane as Gandhi's completely non-violent struggle. But, considering that they were only using stones and rocks to fight Israeli army was a big shift from their terror tactics and yielded better results in less than 10 years than what armed terrorism had not yielded in 3 decades.They won  the world over as the world could not approve of heavily armed Israelis using their fire power on people of all ages using only stones to fight for their cause.

Courage is good. Use it with right planning and timing to make the best use of it. "Planning without action is futile. Action without planning is fatal."

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