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Fear and Cowardice…Not the Same

January 15, 2015

I received an email from a person in response to a post I made recently. This person suggested, in part, that I despise or disdain those who feel fear. Not at all. I do, however, despise both cowardice and the bullying that often accompanies it. To suggest that fear and cowardice are the same, as my correspondent did, ignores both the meaning of words and the realities of life. How cool is it that Merriam-Webster can be accessed by virtually anyone with internet access? That ability lets us find things like definitions. Merriam-Webster defines a coward as “someone who is too afraid to do what is right or expected” and, more fully as “one who shows disgraceful fear or timidity.” In the post under question I was pretty clear, I think, that I was viewing cowardice in light of such definitions. Fear, amazingly enough, has its own definition. It, too, can be found on the Merriam-Webster site. It is “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.”

Fear is normal. Up to a point it keeps us alert, and often, alive. If you are able to make security sweep of a large freighter that you just boarded, walking down dark passageways with doors, watertight and otherwise, on each side of you, fully aware that at any moment one of the bad guys could pop out and spray you and your LE boarding team, and not feel any fear…I don’t want to do boardings with you. The same thing is true if being shot at doesn’t cause you any fear. I don’t want to work with you. On the other hand, if those things cause you fear, that’s okay. It certainly caused me to feel fear, back when I was doing that sort of thing. On the other hand, if you simply refuse to do the boarding because you recognize you could be hurt or killed, that’s not okay, especially if you stay in a job that requires you to board strange vessels.

Neither of those situations were involved in what apparently aroused the ire of my critic. It seems to have been my characterization of terrorists as cowards. I stand by my words. If your dedication to your cause, whatever that cause might be, is not sufficient to lead you to face those most in a position to bring your cause to an end, you are a coward. If your actions are only directed to or against those who are unable to resist, you are a coward. If, after harming those who are weaker than you, you gloat over or extol yourself and your actions, you are a coward. Further, if you don’t engage in such acts yourself, but glorify those who do, you are not only a coward, but a toady one at that.

Finally, there is this. In response to your question, madam (you know who you are), yes I do, indeed, have “issues” with both cowards and bullies.

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2 Comments
  1. Very well put. I knew guys in Iraq & Afghan who claimed to have no fear; I stayed away from those and feel fortunate that I did so. Most often than not those who claimed to have no fear are the ones who let fear stop them from doing what needed to be done. I agree. Fear is a good tihng and if administered properly will get you through those fearful times; if your luck holds out.

  2. Thanks. I knew guys there who made the same claim. Those people scare me because they can get me killed. As for luck…yeah. Luck (however you define it) is a pain because you can’t control it.

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