Defining Cowardice

Inasmuch as I find the whole Confederate flag controversy to be worthy of nothing more than an eye roll, at the same time I happen to also believe it has a silver lining.

It is during these cause célèbres we see who can be trusted or not. Liken it to the parable of the two houses, one built on sand, the other a rock. When a storm comes, one is swept away, while the other stands firms.  Such controversies, then, demonstrate whether or not a man’s outward beliefs are built upon genuine convictions or if they stand on a slippery, unstable foundation easily manipulated by the capricious ebbs and tides of popular opinion.

The man who stands on the rock will continue to stand there, even if they stand alone.  The intellectual coward, on the other hand, will be swept away in the torrent of popular opinion. They will turn on their own in an effort to save themselves. Worse is when it is done to gain something previously denied.

Tom Woods’ description here offers us a portrait of what the coward looks like.

John Wayne once described courage as being scared to death but saddling up, anyway. I would prefer a more contextually relevant definition: Courage is maintaining one’s beliefs, irrespective of the consequences; the more unpopular the belief, the more palpable the courage required to maintain it.

One would be wise to watch carefully and take notes of how public figures respond during controversies like these. The coward scrambles to placate the masses; his principles wane and break when pressed against the tide. But the brave one holds his ground without apology or excuses, come what may, for he knows he will weather the storm intact.

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4 Responses to Defining Cowardice

  1. Agreed. Well said too.

    The Confederate flag itself, being a product of a state, doesn’t mean a whole lot to me, but the spirit of rebellion does. I think secession is the only way a libertarian society will come about, and I cheer it on at every turn, even in cases like Scotland, where those wishing to separate have very different views from my own. The more localized the better. I would be ecstatic if Texas regained independence.

    So what worries me about all this attention to the flag, is that rebellion itself will get the racist smear, instead the dumb-asses in the South who used it that way many years after the conflict. Almost everyone was racist back then! Even “honest” Abe, who wanted to export all the slaves back to Africa or Central America.

    I also despise Abraham Lincoln and the notion that the North fought the war to end slavery, so it’s nice to see the Northern Invasion (Civil War) brought up in conversations again. I always learn something new every time I look into it. For instance, I learned that 1/3 of the Union army were immigrants right off the boat. So Lincoln used basically a foreign army to help pummel the South into submission, along with the usual terror tactics of war waged among democracies, like burning towns to the ground and killing innocents. Talk about cowardice.


  2. Pingback: Playing with (holy) fire | The Anarchist Notebook | Libertarian Anarchy

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