Lessons in Courage From Veronica Roth

Veronica Roth is the author of Divergent, the first book of a teen trilogy about a dystopian future society. In the story, society is divided into factions, each based on values its founders felt could counteract the evils of the world. Those with aptitudes encompassing more than one faction–the Divergent of the title–are seen as dangerous, potentially threatening society by their inability to fit smoothly into a single faction.

There are five factions, but the one I find most interesting is the Dauntless faction, based on bravery. I find the faction’s manifesto compelling, particularly these bits:

…We believe that justice is more important than peace.We believe in … denying fear the power to influence our decisions.

We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another….

You can read the whole manifesto here, if you’re interested.

It’s the ordinary acts of bravery that originally caught my attention. Ordinary acts of bravery–what I call Everyday Courage–are the backbone of any life that’s worth living. If all we do is get up, go through our daily routine, and go to bed without any effort to make ourselves or our world better–why get up in the first place?

Everyday courage is what enables us to take initiative instead of waiting for permission.

Everyday courage gives us the ability to improve ourselves instead of always taking the path of least resistance.

Everyday courage makes random acts of kindness possible.

Everyday courage inspires selflessness, in ourselves and others.

Everyday courage is not what makes us heroes, or famous, or the best at what we do. But it is what makes us better at being who we are, and that makes the world around us better.

And at the end of the day, we don’t all have to be heroes, or famous, or the best. If we go to bed in a better world than we woke up in–if we make the choice, at least once during the day, to do something that makes ourselves or our world even a little bit better–we’ve shown everyday courage.

And that seems to me like a reason to get out of bed.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.