Courage, also known as bravery and fortitude, is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Its accompanying animal is the lion. Often, Fortitude is depicted as having tamed the ferocious lion, as in the Tarot trump called Strength. It also is a symbol in some cultures as a savior of the people who live in a community with sin and a corrupt church or religious body.
The Tao Te Ching states that courage is derived from love and explains: “One of courage, with audacity, will kill. One of courage, but gentle, spares life. From these two kinds of courage arise harm and benefit.” In Roman Catholicism, courage is referred to as Fortitude, one of the four cardinal virtues along with prudence, justice, and temperance. In both Catholicism and Anglicanism, courage is also one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
As a virtue, courage is discussed extensively in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, where its vice of deficiency is cowardice and its vice of excess is recklessness. Soren Kierkegaard opposed courage to angst, while Paul Tillich opposed an existential courage to be to non-being, fundamentally equating it with religion.
Courage is the self-affirmation of being in spite of the fact of non-being. It is the act of the individual self in taking the anxiety of non-being upon itself by affirming itself in the anxiety of guilt and condemnation. Every courage to be has openly or covertly a religious root, for religion is the state of being grasped by the power of being itself.
Courage appears as the first of ten characteristics of religion the Hindu scripture, with the remaining characteristics being forgiveness, tolerance, not to steal, control of senses, cleanliness, intelligence, knowledge, truth, and not to get angry. In Islam, courage is seen as an important attribute to combat evil like the Prophet and to make the sacrifice required, to stand up to evil like the Prophet said and defend the brothers and sisters.
Civil courage, sometimes also referred to as social courage, is defined by many different standards. In general, the term is usually referred to when civilians stand up against something that is deemed unjust and evil, knowing that the consequences of their action might lead to injury or some other form of significant harm.
In some countries civil courage is enforced by law. This means that if a crime is committed in public, the public is obliged to act either by alerting the authorities or by intervening in the conflict. If the crime is committed in a private environment, those who witness the crime must either report it to the authorities or attempt to stop it.