Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks on courage and cowardice, bravery and fear

“Are there any two words in all of the English language more closed twinned than courage and cowardice? I do not think there is a man alive who will not yearn to possess the former and dread to be accused of the latter. One is held to be the apogee of man’s character, the other its nadir. And yet, to me, the two sit side by side on the circle of life, removed from each other by the merest degree of arc.”

“Who is the brave man–he who feels no fear? If so, then bravery is but a polite term for a mind devoid of rationality and imagination. The brave man, the real hero, quakes with terror, sweats, feels his very bowels betray him, and in spite of this moves forward to do the act he dreads. And yet I do not think it heroic to march into fields of fire, whipped on one’s way only by fear of being called craven. Sometimes, true courage requires inaction… that one sit at home while war rages, if by doing so one satisfies the quiet voice of honorable conscience.”

Three of us at Quixote Consulting – myself, Laura and Rufus – recently read the Pulitzer Prize winning book March by Geraldine Brooks, part of a community book reading event here in western Massachusetts. This week I’m sharing some quotes from the book that I found to be particularly poignant.

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