The word courage dates back to 14th century Middle English. It was written as corage in English and in Old French as corage, curage, and finally courage. In the Provençal dialect of Southern France, used by the medieval troubadours, courage was spelled as coratge. In Latin the word coraticum means courage. The root of which is cor, coming from the Proto-Indo-European root kerd meaning heart. The suffix –age is Anglo-Norman and Old French. It is used to turn words into nouns.
Courage is not the absence of fear but instead the presence of something more important then fear. Courage cannot be described without discussing the other components it is comprised of. To be courageous you must also be brave, having the ability to continue an action when you face challenges or pain. You must be able to persevere, persisting in spite of obstacles. Thirdly, you must possess integrity. Integrity is a very important part of courage, because it gives you the ability to be honest and have strong morals. Many courageous people have been afraid. In fact, I would argue that moving past some kind of fear is what makes an action courageous. When someone exhibits courage, they are making a decision that something else is more important then their fear and following through with an action.
Though some might argue that courage can exist in those people who we consider to be bad, this is not true. Courage is different from bravery. Where bravery is determination, fortitude, and strength, just as courage can also be those things also, bravery does not come from the heart. What makes courage different from bravery is that it is part of our internal will to do good. Courage is strength of purpose, and being driven by what we believe to be right and true, even though it may scare us. It is driven by love and compassion. Soldiers who willingly enlisted to fight for their country in WWI and WWII are courageous because they believed fighting was the right thing to do. They fought as a result of love and loyalty for their country. They fought for freedom, for the freedom of their loved ones and everyone else back home. They were willing to die for this cause. However, in the process of fighting in the wars, they killed many people. We often consider this to be reasonable given the cause, even though millions were killed in both wars. This could be compared and contrasted to suicide bombers. Though they kill many people in the process, just as soldiers do in battle, they are also fighting for what they believe to be right and just. Suicide bombings are caused by more then just religious beliefs. They can be caused by politics, retaliation for humiliation, and desire for revenge. Though giving your life for your beliefs is an act of bravery because it is challenging and frightening, these bombings are not courageous. Their motivation does not come from the heart and is not driven by love and compassion. We are all born with the potential to be courageous, but it is something we must work towards throughout our entire lives in order to achieve.
Hassan, Riaz. "What Motivates the Suicide Bombers?" YaleGlobal. Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, 3 Sept. 2009. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.