Published February 25, 2022

Courage Comes in Different Forms 

Written by
Greg Demme
| The Dakotan
In the opinion of Greg Demme
Greg Demme, columnist, The Dakotan
In the opinion of Greg Demme
Greg Demme, columnist, The Dakotan

Some types of courage may seem familiar to us. For example, many North Dakotans understand the need to regularly brave dangerously cold weather in order to care for their livestock and provide for their families. In fact, some might say that’s not even an example of courage but of simple responsibility. Nevertheless, I consider it an example of courage that many of us recognize and can relate to.  

Another familiar example might be the thought of protecting a defenseless victim from an armed attacker. Usually, one has to prepare oneself for that sort of situation by both arming oneself and training oneself in how to take immediate, effective action in such a situation. That’s a premeditated courage. Again, many of us may be familiar with that type of courage, especially those who have already spent years of their life protecting and defending their country or their communities. Most of us have probably never faced the decision to take such action under imminent threat of harm, though we’d like to think we would exhibit such courage if the need arose.  

But courage comes in many different forms. People display a somewhat less recognizable form of courage when they see a concern with the way their community is going and speak up loudly, clearly, consistently, and legally. It takes courage to be the lone voice, especially if that means your neighbors and other community members might talk about you behind your back or disparage you or work their hardest to undermine you.  

It also takes courage to push back against whatever may “seem inevitable” in society. We need not embrace every societal trend, nor do we need to dismiss every societal trend out of hand. Trends should be evaluated on an individual basis, and unworthy trends should be resisted even if you must swim against an overwhelming tide. That takes courage. 

It doesn’t, however, take courage to jump on board societal trends because everyone you know is doing it and then proceed to claim that you are on “the right side of history.” That’s not courage; that’s mob mentality. The one who steps out and takes the verbal shots when the whole world seems against him is the one who exhibits courage. 

I have met numerous North Dakotans who would willingly take a shot, a literal bullet, for their loved ones. My current exhortation to North Dakotans is that many more of us would be willing to stand up and take shots verbally in the ideological battles that are raging in our state and nation. Even if that means telling your neighbor, “You’re a nice person, but I won’t vote for you because you don’t stand for the same principles I stand for.” Even if that means people start saying you’re not a nice person.  

If we’re not willing to take such verbal shots in these ideological battles now, all that may be left to us is to take literal bullets. I, for one, don’t want to wait that long before I stand up. 

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