When I first started looking for five positive values people could embrace that would help them ward off the negative effects of the five great motivators used by copy writers to convince us to buy things we don’t need (see my post “A Values-Based, Practice-Oriented Spirituality” for more), I went back and forth on what value serves as the appropriate counterbalance to “fear.” At first I thought “courage” or “bravery” might do the trick. But I realized that mustering up enough courage to act on something doesn’t necessarily mean one still isn’t afraid. Indeed, courage isn’t the opposite of fear; it’s just one possible way to act in the face of fear. Which is why I decide to use “hope” as the alternative to “fear.” And that’s pretty much where I’ve left things for quite awhile. But then I stumbled upon the following quotes, one from Vaclav Havel, the other from Margaret J. Wheatley. Seems that hope has a lot in common with courage (or bravery). See what you think:

Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Either we have hope or we don’t; it is a dimension of the soul, and it’s not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, and orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons…. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more propitious the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper the hope is. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.

—Vaclav Havel, Disturbing the Peace

Never Too Late

Bravery is a choice. It is a decision to enter into the fray no matter how illogical and crazy things are. Even as our friends, family and common sense recommend that we stay away.

In our life, we are surrounded by people, events, circumstances that offer continuous proof of how bad things are, including bad people who don’t seem worth struggling for.

We did not plan to live in such a crazed world. Very few of us have been prepared by life circumstances to deal with the levels of fear, aggression and insanity we now encounter daily.

When we were being trained to think, to plan, to lead, the world was portrayed as rational, predictable, logical.

But now? Ever-present insanity, illogic, injustice, illusion.

This is just the way it is and will continue to be.

We can’t restore sanity to the world, but we can still remain sane and available.

We can still aspire to be of service wherever need summons us. We can still focus our energy on working for good people and good causes.

It is never too late to be brave.

—Margaret J. Wheatley, Perseverance

I found the Havel quote in the introduction to Faith Formation 2020: Designing the Future of Faith Formation, and the Wheatley quote in the March 2011 issue of Quest, the official publication of the Church of the Larger Fellowship.