Bravery is a daunting term, what exactly characterizes bravery? I have been thinking a lot about this idea as I have been preparing for my speech at the United Nations in September, and it is a term that is difficult to define. I think so often we believe that to be brave we must perform an extraordinary act of courage, but have we ever stopped to think it is the little things we do on a daily basis that make us brave? The daily obstacles that we overcome, the adversity that we face and the people we choose to be.
I think so often in life people feel that in order to have an act of bravery you must fight in our military, stand up and be an advocate for a national or international campaign, have an extraordinary act, but what about the simple acts? I have come to realize over the past five years that bravery has many faces, our armed service men and women portray acts of bravery as they fight for our country and our freedom, our children portray acts of bravery as they stand up for their peers, every single one of us portray acts of bravery in our daily lives and each one carries it’s own face.
For nearly six years I have been classified as an individual with a physical disability however, I believe that everyone has a “disability” of some sort. Mine is evident, you really can’t miss the four wheels that get me about on a daily basis, however, in life I have learned that some of the most disabling disabilities are the one’s that you can’t see. We all live with some form of “disability,” whether it be physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, familial, and the list goes on and where I believe bravery steps in is when we decide that regardless of what our “disability” is we aren’t going to let it stop us from living, from aspiring to achieve our goals, and from continuing to push ourselves one step further. In fact, sometimes that is the most courageous act of bravery there is, not allowing circumstance to define us and not allowing fear to hold us back.
There is this mindset that I had as a child. I believed in order to make a difference and change the world you had to have a grand gesture; you had to be a politician, a CEO of a company, or someone famous. I grew up with a father that told my sister’s and I as he tucked us into bed at night, and said our bedtime prayers, “You are the best, you can make a difference, and you can change the world.”
For years I had a hard time understanding how it is that I could change the world, I wasn’t a politician, I wasn’t the CEO of a company and I certainly wasn’t famous. Then, I realized that although those individuals may have the most immediate ability to change the world and make a difference, we all have that ability. We all have the ability to be brave and fight for what we believe in, the ability to live our daily lives with passion and heart, the ability to rise above fear and push forward. We have the ability to smile at a by passer, free of judgment, just a simple smile to a fellow human being, as you never know what that one smile might do for their day. We have the ability to hold the door for someone, help someone in need across the street and most of all let go of judgment and hate for people just because they don’t believe the same things you do. Those simple acts our courageous, they make a difference, they change the world and they are acts of bravery. They are things that each one of us is capable of doing on a daily basis, walking in someone else’s shoes for a moment, simply letting go of judgment and hate, we as fellow human beings can be brave every day, for ourselves and others around us.
So what is the definition of bravery? I don’t think there is one. Bravery carries many faces and we all have the ability to portray acts of bravery, for some that might be simply getting out of bed one morning because in that moment life just might feel too difficult, for others it might be acting as an advocate for a family member who is ill, or simply being there for them. Bravery simply cannot be defined, but it can be challenged. This is my challenge for myself and for everyone else; live your life with passion, with heart, free of fear, hate and judgment, be courageous, and know that in any given moment you can make a difference and you can change the world by your simple actions.