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The Communicator

The Art of Courage

Three Ann Arborians reflect on their experiences with courage, what it means to them, the people around them, and their community.

Lee Greenberg stands in a cold parking lot, as fear slowly creeps down to rests in her stomach. She holds her parents as tight as she can; her suitcase is loaded onto the bottom of the bus heading for a dark desolate place … France. Her mom begins to pull away but Greenberg keeps holding her back- staying close for as long as she can. Eventually, the time comes when she can no longer hold on. She enters the bus as it drives away.

Lee would describe herself as having “a medium amount of courage.”

“I balance a lot of extracurriculars, and I value school a lot,” said Greenberg.“I work hard on the things that I do, especially with things like cross country or track races. Those get scary, but I keep going to them.”

Although she does all these activities, Greenberg still feels she needs to take more risks. Courage is defined as the ability to do something that frightens one, but Greenberg has a different definition.

“My definition of courage is the confidence to be brave and to accomplish something you would like to accomplish,” Greenberg said.

Before she got onto that bus, she was confronted with two choices: see the world, or stay put in comfort and safety. There was a moment when Greenberg decided that the course of action she would take might not be the most comfortable or easy. She had to be brave to accomplish something she wanted to accomplish. In that moment, she showed courage beyond that of the mundane.

“When the bus drove away, I got even more scared,” Greenburg said. “And then I started talking to everybody around me, and I realized how not scary it would be.”

According to Greenburg, the most powerful tool she has in finding courage is other people. When others are in the same situation as her, she finds that she can take care of not only herself but also others. Her courage plus the courage of those around her empowered her to not only survive the trip but to excel and enjoy the differences between home and France.

Greenburg isn’t alone in the way that she finds her courage. Mark Tyler, Assistant Fire Chief believes his greatest source of courage is his empathy

“It’s really hard to put it in perspective as to what drives a firefighter,” Tyler said. “I think it has everything to do with caring for their fellow man for, their fellow person. Life is precious, and we want to make sure that we do anything and everything within our power to help to make sure whoever needs it, is saved.”

He talked about how a firefighter uses courage beyond what any everyday person uses — constantly being on alert. Whether it’s training, maintenance, or fighting a fire, the firefighter needs to have a large pool of courage to draw on at all times, because when the moment comes, firefighters always choose to do the hard thing, even if it kills them.

Training is also an invaluable part of the firefighter’s courage

“When you train for those types of environments, it gives you a better understanding of what you’re getting into and how to attack the situation,” Tyler said.

When facing the unknown an extra layer of fear is added. Training or preparation beforehand strips away that layer. The ability to say, ‘I’ve done this before,’ lets your brain stay under control even in the toughest situations. Firefighters take this to a whole new level — training day in and day out for every possible situation because when that moment comes, they need to be able to respond without thinking.

Another student at Community High, Collin Courage, finds that courage is all about the prep time.

“I think it takes a lot of courage to do the things that I do in my life, but I just don’t think of it as courage because I do them every day,” Courage said. ”They’re just things that I do.”

Despite his namesake, Courage believes he doesn’t have more or less courage than any other person, he just hasn’t had enough life experiences to say that he has courage. He thinks that courage isn’t a choice, but many choices stacked over a lifetime of countless decisions made over a lifetime that culminate in acts of bravery, both big and small.

Courage is many things: it is boarding a bus bound for adventure, battling infernos to save lives, or simply showing up each day to pursue one’s passions. It is taking a risk, it is doing the right thing when no one is looking and it’s speaking up when something is wrong. It is deciding to say hello to a new person, or touching a new hand. That is the art of courage.

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About the Contributor
Walker Ledbetter
Walker Ledbetter, Journalist
Walker is a freshman in his first semester in journalism and he's ready for the challenge. When he's not on the move he can't sit still, whether it's biking to school or running to class, he's always got somewhere to be. When he slows down, he plays with strange objects, pets dogs and wrangles his five siblings. Some of his passions include talking when it's not his turn, being way too silly and Norwegian sweaters.

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