What is the measure of a man’s courage? Is it measured by jumping on an enemy grenade to save his friends? Is it boldly braving enemy fire to pull one of his comrades from the brutal bloodbath of an enemy ambush? Both of those are great examples, but they miss a critical element…Fear. Fear can take many forms, both rational and irrational.
In some cases fear can be fairly brief, such a a two minute free fall, accompanied by the opening shock of the parachute, at which point the fear is replaced by relief. The same applies in many combat situations…a brief, but very loud firefight, followed up by relief at being alive and then caring for the wounded (often followed by the shakes). Then there is fear that extends over long period of time. Regardless of duration, there can be no courage without fear. The two go hand in hand. I picked up the following off a website devoted to sufferers of chronic pain regarding courage and fear:
Two brothers born of the same cloth. Different in many ways, yet the bond between them growing up was forged forever. Fear has no direction and cannot see very well. He moves too fast and often lives in the future and in the past. Courage cannot be seen unless his brother Fear is with him. Courage is slower moving and needs great power to emit light.
Here are a couple other quotes about fear and physical courage:
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” —Nelson Mandela
“Being terrified but going ahead and doing what must be done—that’s courage. The one who feels no fear is a fool, and the one who lets fear rule him is a coward.” —Piers Anthony
“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is another aspect beyond physical courage and fear of death or dismemberment. There is the fear of being on the wrong side in politics…the fear of being called a racist for espousing unpopular political views. In this case, courage is defined as standing your ground, even if unpopular…when it’s controversial to do so. Dr Martin Luther King Junior famously said:
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Mark Twain remarked:
In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.
Which brings me to the subject of today’s offering, Rush Limbaugh, talk radio host and conservative icon. Limbaugh was an unafraid conservative when it really wasn’t cool to be one. He has had to deal with leftist anger towards him through his career. Yet no only has he survived the onslaught, he has thrived enough to sit at the pinnacle of AM Talk Radio.
He is also no stranger to physical adversity. As reported by my good friend and colleague Becca Lower, Limbaugh has run up against a significant setback in his fight against Stage IV Lung Cancer. After what seemed like modest progress, his condition has taken a turn for the worse. Limbaugh announced it on Monday’s radio show.
I listened to the whole show, of which Limbaugh only devoted the introductory monologue to his condition. How he has been handling this pretty much death sentence, has been truly remarkable. If you think about it, a man with his means could easily call it quits, putting all his resources into extending his life and while doing so, seeking personal enjoyment for his remaining days.
Rush Limbaugh hasn’t done that. Instead, he has turned his focus outwards instead of inwards. Since he was first diagnosed, he has had very little to say bout his cancer, except to give very brief prognosis reports….more in an effort to assuage the concerns of his audience. And—his efforts to calm his audience were done with his customary dash of elan.
I remember one sequence where he riffed on CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin saying, ”And I thought I had a HARD day yesterday.” then going on with a series of double entendres at Toobin’s expense and almost causing your humble scribe to veer off the road, he was laughing so hard.
Rush Limbaugh is demonstrating true courage in the face of adversity. When I was diagnosed with lung cancer back in 2010. I was absolutely terrified. But for the grace of God and a number of things that had to have happened in the proper sequence in the two years prior to my diagnosis, I’d be on the wrong side of the grass right now. Keeping it all together, even for the 2 month period from diagnosis until my chest cutter told me we got it all and you don’t need chemo was pretty tough. I can only imagine how hard this must be for Limbaugh.
Limbaugh’s condition is much worse than mine was and with a much darker prognosis. Yet, except for treatment days, he sallies forth to do battle with the left every day. He doesn’t whine abut the unfairness of it all. His reports on his condition are matter of fact and short. He continues to reserve the vast majority of his airtime to fight the good conservative fight. He continues to uplift his listeners. He also makes no bones about his major goal, to survive long enough to help re-elect President Donald Trump and see him inaugurated in January.
The measure of a man’s courage indeed.
For other quotes on courage, Read: The Six Attributes of Courage