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More than any other moral quality, courage tends to evoke feelings of admiration and awe. Courage can appear to be an aristocrat among the virtues: the preserve of a rare breed of people possessing conspicuous natural nobility and greatness of soul. When we talk about brave deeds, it may seem appropriate to do so in a hushed whisper.

But it would be a mistake to suppose that all courageous action is heroic action. While many of our favorite paradigms and exemplars of courage are cases of almost unbelievable endurance or bravery in the face of danger, the virtue is as much at home in the cottage as in the castle, in the office as on the battlefield. Our thinking about courage will get off on the wrong foot unless two things are recognized at the outset: that


This story is from Kinfolk Issue Nineteen

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