COMMENTARY: Moral Courage — The Engine of Integrity

Mignon McLaughlin tells us, “People are made of flesh and blood and a miracle fiber called courage.”

Courage comes in two forms: physical courage and moral courage. Physical courage is demonstrated by acts of bravery where personal harm is risked to protect others or preserve cherished principles. It’s the kind of courage that wins medals and monuments.Moral courage may seem less grand but it is more important because it’s needed more often.

Moral courage is the engine of integrity. It is our inner voice that coaxes, prods, and inspires us to meet our responsibilities and live up to our principles when doing so may cost us dearly.

It takes moral courage to be honest at the risk of ridicule, rejection, or retaliation, or when doing so may jeopardize our income or career. It takes courage to own up to our mistakes when doing so may get us in trouble or thwart our ambitions. It even takes courage to stand tough with our kids when doing so may cost us their affection.

Like a personal coach, moral courage pushes and prods us to be our best selves. It urges us to  get up when we’d rather stay in bed, go to work when we’d rather go fishing, tell the truth when a lie would make our life so much easier, keep a costly promise and put the interest of others above our own.

The voice of moral courage is also our critical companion during troubling times; it provides us with the strength to  cope with and overcome adversity and persevere when we want to quit or just rest.

At unexpected and unwelcome times, we all will be forced to deal with the loss of loved ones, personal illnesses and injuries, betrayed friendships, and personal failures. These are the trials and tribulations of a normal life, but, without moral courage, they can rob us of the will and confidence to find new roads to happiness and fulfillment

Moral courage is essential not only for a virtuous life, but a happy one. Without courage, our fears and failures confine us like a barbed wire fence.

The voice of moral courage is always there, but sometimes it is drowned out by the drumbeat of our fears and doubts. We need to learn to listen for the voice. The more we  call on it and listen to it and trust it, the stronger it becomes.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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Comments 2

  1. Pingback: Why is Job Competence Given a Higher Priority than Foundational, Moral Character and Integrity? « Lee Ellis on Leading with Honor

  2. I shared this commentary on my Facebook timeline with praise for Michael’s blog because I believe this is the level where most of us often fail and where we can begin to be better in our own development and as examples to others. It is easy (and I do it) to rant at the patent and often gross cheating and unfairness that seems more and more common in our society, but such rants will make little difference to anyone unless we begin at this very personal, even internal, level. Then it might be possible to influence a community, and enough better communities might influence a society. I remain basically a(n) (occasionally ranting) optimist and would like to believe improvement at all levels is possible.

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