Courage, the Life Word

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J. William Lloyd

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It would seem that we are to regard life as a military campaign in which the rewards are all in proportion to the active service. We are not to seek for sluggard ease or stagnation of peace, knowing that that way is losing ground to the enemy which later will have to be fought over and recovered with heavier pains.

Neither peace nor pleasure is to be sought as an end, but higher and ever-higher ideals discovered, fought for, attained, finding a constantly enlarging and more satisfying joy in spiritual gain, in wisdom, courage and moral strength.

When a little boy, I conceived a daily prayer for strength, courage and wisdom, and it returns to me that these are still the greatest of human needs.

As the soldier does not ask for lazy comfort and routine promotion, but the glorious struggles and deathless fame of true war, so we. Life is a battle and we accept it and thrill to the clear-voiced bugles and step to the throbbing drums. After all nothing so awakens our admiration as to see the fire of courage kindle in a dauntless eye and great obstacles steadily and skilfully overcome. No sybaritic idleness, no dolce-jarniente can ever so allure.

In the past the world's worship has gone to the victor and the pioneer, and it will be so to the end, only on ever-higher and more spiritual planes.

The old battles of club and gun, of blood and brawn, will die out, but soul will struggle with soul in sublime agonies of stress and sacrifice, of enlarging liberty and uplifting ideals.

I must know! I must be! cries the God-kindled one, and then the issue with that which remains and that which reacts is joined. Every lifting of even a foot forward means tears of blood and we must all shed our share. We must trample down our terror, though it hiss with vipers, sting with scorpions, and blast with fire through eye and brain. Courage is the life-word of man, the only countersign of those who proceed.

Life is not for peace without pain, life is for that peace which accepts and includes pain, which is above, which is itself the fruit and spoil of pain forever.

  • J. William Lloyd, “Courage, the Life Word,” Mind 16, no. 5 (November 1905): 1001-1002.