Discretion Is the Better Part of Valour Essay

Outline:

  • The difference between courage and sheer animal force
  • Intelligence superior to physical strength
  • The difference between the soldier and a general in a war
  • The result of a heedless act
  • The example of a big game hunter equipped with the necessary knowledge
  • A fool’s courage and the courage of Socrates, Galileo, Jesus

It is taken from Shakespeare’s Play “Henry IV” Act III Sec. 2.

Man has been endowed with many powers and capacities, of which perhaps his reason is the supreme possession. Courage undeniably is a great virtue that has made possible all achievements of life. But sheer animal force can scarcely be called courage. Courage indeed is a venture that involves risks but nevertheless, it is guided by.reason and caution.

Wit, presence of mind and intelligence certainly is much superior to physical strength. In muscular power a man is no parallel to a mountainous elephant. But man by dint of his intellect can enslave the giant to obey and follow him like a little child.

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When a war breaks out, the common soldiers are sent to fight the battle in the actual field, but the General sits in his camp or in the office for which no one will question his bravery. For, his courage is manifested through the plans he prepares and in the way he conducts action, which requires more direction than courage.

We are often to mistake foolish daring as courage. But stupidity cannot be justified on any account and much less lauded. A heedless act jeopardizes life and property and result in unhappiness for all. If a man goes to kill a tiger with bare hands, we shall not admire his bravery; rather we will be tempted to doubt his sanity, and call him a half-wit. On the other hand a big game hunter who studies the condition of the jungle and enters it properly equipped does not fall in our esteem for his lack of courage. Columbus sailed across the unchartered ocean not altogether depending on a dream. He had some knowledge, however inadequate, on which he could plan his voyage. When an epidemic spreads out, a man of discretion takes necessary precautions in the form of inoculation or vaccines and proves useful to others; while those whom in order to display their daring go without necessary measures, and endanger the safety of all.

Expression of courage is not limited to the acts of physical valour only. The men of creative genius, philosophers, discoverers and revolutionists invariably possess great spiritual courage which enable them to weather the storms of opposition and bitter criticism. Yet Socrates did not drink the cup of hemlock to scoff at death but to uphold the values of truth. Galileo died to establish a scientific explanation of a natural phenomenon. Jesus bore the pains of the crucifixion to save the benighted souls of the sinful humanity. Such fearlessness of death and suffering is the spirit of real courage. Courage in itself has scarcely any importance unless it has a definite goal to reach and a purpose to serve. Without sober discretion courage can never be utilized for productive purposes.

But when everything is said, this cannot be lost sight of that discretion carried to excess will affect enthusiasm, inspiration and ambition as a light. And by being too discreet a man might be reduced to a coward at times,

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