Courage does not mean merely physical bravery, it means, also, the moral strength which enables a man to do the right thing. Physical courage is good and useful, as it helps man to overcome difficulties, bear hardships, and do laborious work, but moral courage is a higher form of courage, and is much more noble. A moral coward will not do the right thing, because he is afraid of the ridicule of others. It is easy to say ‘yes’ to everything, but it requires a very strong mind to say ‘no,’ when one is really convinced that the thing is wrong. Young men, especially, ruin themselves for lack of moral courage to resist evil. How many of them live beyond their means simply to follow fashion! How many neglect their studies for fear of being called ‘unsocial bookworms!’
Luther and other great refórmers would not have achieved the success that they did achieve, if they had weakly yielded to the threats of their opponents who were, perhaps, more powerful than themselves.
Reformers are laughed at, even persecuted but they do not give up the truth which they have discovered. Sacrificing one’s interests for the sake of others requires great courage. A man who risks his own life to save that of another, who rescues another from fire, or saves a drowning man, shows the best from of courage.
Courage is the principal element of character. The courage that one shows in the endeavor to do one’s duty, to suffer for the truth, and to help others is more heroic than the achievements of physical valor. The courage to seek and to speak the truth, the courage to be just, the courage to be honest, the courage to resist temptation, the courage to do one’s duty- this is the courage which characterizes great men. Socrates was given poison to drink, because his teachings were not liked, Bruno was burnt alive, Galileo was imprisoned, but none of these brave men gave up the truth. We must possess strong bodies, but strong minds are indispensable for a noble and heroic character. Such man represent the moral force of the world. They are the enemies of fraud, lies, and oppression. “I had rather suffer” says a statesman, “for speaking the truth than that the truth should suffer for want of my speaking.”