Sunday Service Discussion Notes for July 15 and July 22, 2012
For two weeks we discussed the subject of Courage.
Courage is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. To stand up even when you stand alone.
Examples were given of world events such as the Enron and Barclays Bank scandals. Whistle-blowers spoke out when they saw wrongdoing, even though they knew that despite laws that exist to protect them, that they would face potentially harmful repercussions. Courage is when you see that others are doing wrong, but you choose to do the right thing. To not do this is cowardice.
We can train ourselves to be courageous by beginning with small acts of bravery. It is not necessary for it to be a momentous event for us to demonstrate courage. It could be something much more mundane. For example, if you see your group of friends making disparaging remarks about another person, you can have the courage to stand up and say that you feel it is wrong to talk negatively about someone else. If we practice these small acts on a more regular basis, once we arrive at larger situations that require courage, we will have more skill at it.
This raised the question: Is it harder to be courageous for the large events or the smaller ones? Sometimes even the more insignificant seeming events may be harder because there is the feeling that this situation isn't important enough to bother making the effort to be courageous.
Another example was given of a fraternity president who cancelled the infamous "hell week" initiation period for his organization, and substituted a week of philanthropic work. He received a lot of push-back for this change, but he showed the courage to move forward with actions that he thought were right despite of the criticism he faced. We have to be willing to take the chance. A courageous person is not so concerned with what other people think; with the possible repercussions of their act. Or perhaps they are concerned, but they do it anyways, in spite of their fears.
The topic of Courage, Lance, our facilitator noted, correlates with Comfort/Discomfort discussion we had in June. He quoted from a blog by Keith Hicks, entitled: It Takes Courage to Grow, saying "All growth happens outside the comfort zone."
Some of us stated that they can get help in being courageous from prayer, repeating a mantra or chanting. Lance said that this brought to mind an Oprah interview in which she was talking to rapper 50 Cent, in which he said that one can either decide to pray or to worry, but that it is no good to do both.
We agreed that worry is counterproductive. The more you think about a problem, the worse it gets. The anxiety you create by worrying is probably worse than facing the problem. Lara gave an example of this that revolved around how she had put off telling her best friend that she was planning her vacation to Istanbul. She was afraid that this news would upset her friend, due to her friend's emphatic negative reaction when Lara picked up a book on Istanbul in a bookstore during the initial stages where she was deciding on a location for her trip. She didn't want to deal with the confrontation, but she discovered that this secret was making all of her interactions with her friend difficult: she had to entirely avoid a topic of conversation every time they would interact, on a subject that was prominent in her life at the moment. She finally mustered the courage to get it over with and tell her friend that she was going o Istanbul for vacation. To her surprise, her friend was fairly supportive and dealt with the revelation with a sense of humor. She noted that this scenario shows us how things won't be nearly as bad as you imagine they will be, when you envision the consequences of taking a courageous action.
A final example was given by Lance to show how we can gain courage by taking small steps. He talked about a time in his life when he was laid off and had a sudden need to interview for new jobs. He was worried about his interview skills because he had worked at his previous position for so long that had no recent interview experience. He began to receive solicitations for interview training courses, and he was so worried that he thought maybe he would need something like this. But soon he began to get lots of short term project jobs, and because of this frequent change in employment, he was able gain experience interviewing. From this, he learned that when you are afraid, and feel like you have no experience in doing something, that you should just do it! We can get experience doing the thing you fear again and again and we will discover that it will become easier with repetition.