“To be one’s self, and unafraid whether right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformity.” ~ Irving Wallace

“A high heart ought to bear calamities and not flee them, since in bearing them appears the grandeur of the mind and in fleeing them the cowardice of the heart.” ~ Pietro Aretino

If having a medal bearing the word “courage” upon it were all that it took to transform a coward into a hero, then heroism would come very cheaply indeed.

I have been called a coward. No, wait. My entire family have been called cowards. At first, I thought that I would not respond to this. And actually, I’m not responding to it so much as calling out the coward who hides behind telephone calls and e-mails lest the light of day reveal the true cowardice at work here.

If doing the right thing is being cowardly, then yes, I am a coward. If opening my heart, my life to others is cowardice, then yes, I am a coward. If offering sanctuary to a needy soul without expecting anything in return is cowardice, then yes, I am a coward.

But let me pose this question: What does one call the individual who hides behind a name? The individual who assumes the personae of family pets to communicate? The individual who hasn’t earned an honest cent in a lifetime? What is the label for that individual?

Do not ask me for it is not my job in life to label people, nor is it my desire in life to commune with those whose outlooks are firmly entrenched in delusion and fantasy.

“I am not bound to win
but I am bound to be true.
I am not bound to succeed
but I am bound to live up to what light I have.”
~ Abraham Lincoln

Coward: mid-13c., from O.Fr. coart “coward” (no longer the usual word in French, which has now in this sense poltron, from Italian, and lâche), from coe “tail,” from L. coda, popular dialect variant of cauda “tail,” of uncertain origin + -ard, an agent noun suffix denoting one that carries on some action or possesses some quality, with derogatory connotation (see -ard). The word probably reflects an animal metaphoric sense still found in expressions like turning tail and tail between legs. Coart was the name of the hare in Old French versions of “Reynard the Fox.” It. codardo, Sp. cobarde are from French.

Cowards, those who fail to show courage in the face of a challenge . . . hmm . . . things that make you go hmm . . .

To wit: Virtutis expers verbis jactans gloriam Ignotos fallit, notis est derisui. (or, if you prefer, “A coward boasting of his courage may deceive strangers, but he is a laughing-stock to those who know him.”