#InspireCourage: Default on courage

I’ve observed courage often defined as a state or quality of mind; that depreciates it still. Courage, to me, is a state of being. It constitutes a predisposition to do the right thing, no matter – especially no matter – if doing the right thing does not redound to one’s benefit or credit; if anything, courage entails risks to one’s well-being, and one becomes established in such a state over time, as one resolutely faces life’s tests and makes the moral choice – consistently. 

It’s precisely the act of facing, of confronting, of stepping up that makes for the essence embraced in the solemn phrase “courage of one’s convictions.” Courage is a command of conscience, an acting-out, a realization, of one’s convictions and, being thus a matter of conscience, it presupposes that everyone has the natural capacity and capability to acquire it; by the same token, it precludes any excuses for the converse case. 

The generational tests of courage are implicit in such questions, put by sons to fathers, as, What did you do during the war, Daddy? What did you do during Martial Law? Where were you during the EDSA People Power uprising? 

But how could the supply of courage run short in a mere generation since EDSA? And, if no life’s lessons were intended to be learned here, why should this happen, of all times, amid such moral scandal as we’ve never seen, one in which thousands of our fellow citizens are dying around us in a pogrom that targets three million others, all summarily condemned as having been rendered subhuman by drugs?

Like any virtue – or vice, for that matter – courage is acquired by self-buildup, reinforced and sustained by constant, conscientious practice; conversely, it erodes with every default. 

A formulation seems to apply here and to have worked in fact against us. Popular defaults on courage resulted in Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship stretching to 14 years and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency, though assumed on a rigged vote, running through its full 6-year term. For the same defaults, the Marcoses managed to not only return from exile unbothered but re-entrench themselves in power. And to add supreme insult to the supreme injury caused the nation by their patriarch’s regime of torture, murder, and plunder, they may yet get a hero’s burial for him.

In fact, the Marcoses have been steadily gaining on us. Most dreadfully, they have found for their champion President Rodrigo Duterte himself – the same confessed “happy slaughterer” of drug dealers and addicts – who has virtually anointed Ferdinand Marcos Jr. his political heir.

From Marcos to Arroyo to Duterte, what we’ve had here is a moral war lost by default on courage. – Rappler.com