What is the first thing that comes to mind when the word bravery is said? For most people a war hero or a superhero comes into their minds. Probably every language has a word for bravery, but there is only one true meaning. The word bravery is “showing a brave spirit or courage”(Random, p. 164) when hard times are thrust upon or happen to them. Bravery is not only what people do, but how they do it.
The concept is also “showiness, splendor, and magnificence”(Random, p. 164). Bravery may be shown in different ways: a person may jump from a plane or walk on fire to show that he/she is truly brave. Then again, sometimes bravery is something that a person has inside him or her and is never shown as an action at all.
For thousands of years, people have used words that describe the concept of bravery. The history, or etymology, of the English word bravery is as follows.
The word originated in Latin as barbarus. The Romans who spoke Latin were warriors so it is logical they would have a word that talked about their courageous actions. The Vulgar Latin, which was spoken Latin, was transformed by Middle French in the Middle Ages as well as by Middle English. This form of English was what was spoken in the 12th to 15thcenturies. From the Middle English evolved the English we speak today and with it, the word bravery.
Throughout history, people have talked about the concept of bravery in many ways.
The Greek writer and philosopher Euripides said, “The man who knows when not to act is wise. To my mind, bravery is forethought” (Euripides, p.11). In the Middle Ages, George II of England said that “bravery never goes out of fashion” (George, p. 261). Later, Franois de la Rockefoucould said, “True bravery is shown by performing without witness what one might be capable of showing all the world” (Rockefoucould, p.
12). Bravery has seemed to be an important concept or action throughout history.
When Franois de la Rockefoucould spoke about bravery, he pointed out an important feature of the virtue’s true meaning. Then he made the distinction between people’s private actions versus their public ones, he made it clear that people who do good deed only to get rich or famous are not practicing bravery. True bravery is helping people or animals simply because their actions benefit mankind. It seems that we often misunderstand this aspect of bravery and make the wrong people famous while forgetting about others who show bravery throughout their lives.
The one person that, for me, most represents bravery in this century is Martin Luther King, Jr. Mr King was born in Atlanta, Georgia when black men and white men did not mix. When he died, these two races were a little closer to peace. This was due primarily because of the great influence that Martin Luther King, Jr. had in the United States. He got on the bandwagon of the civil rights movement with the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
He kept leading the movement after his house was bombed. That was bravery because he put his life on the line to make all American black people’s lives better. Later in his life, in 1963, he and other protesters in Birmingham, Alabama, were met by police with dogs and high pressure water hoses (Norell, np). This event was shown on television. His resistence in Alabama was brave because when police came, he and the others did not back down but rather stood up for their beliefs.
I don’t know if I’ve shown bravery or not in my life yet.
I haven’t had any opportunities to save anyone or make a difference in the world. There have been times when I have stood up for my beliefs or said what I thought was right when it meant that I might not get to do something. I think I’ve been brave in these situations but to talk about what I’ve done and compare it to the actions of a man like Martin Luther King, Jr. is to compare apples and oranges, to make my actions greater than they were or to make his actions less important than what they .