I see bravery in the most unexpected of places.
I see it in a child, barely eleven years old, crouching in the playground, hand outstretched,
reaching out to a girl lying red and tearstained on the ground.
I see it in the boy who sits at the back of the classroom. His classmates mock him and throw things. It’s sometimes hard to tell what hurts him more;
the sharp sting of pencil lead piercing his flesh or
the harsh words that make his feeble frame tremble like a thumping heart.
Fearlessness comes in other forms too;
a man in khakis leaning down to kiss his children on their heads, not knowing if this is the last time he’ll look into their eyes.
a teenage girl crumpled on her bed like a broken doll, mascara running down her face in a wave of black. She bites her lip, clutching her phone so tightly her knuckles turn white.
then she takes a breath,
and gets up, scrubbing her face with a dirty sleeve.
With fearlessness often comes defiance,
like in the two girls who walk down the street, grasping each other’s sweaty hands.
Their fear is almost tangible, but they lift their chins and look directly into the
eyes of the world,
daring it to speak.
Across the world, a child is crying.
Its mother is trying desperately to silence it, but nothing will stop the terrified wails wavering from the depths of a worn blanket.
She is only young, and the baby was not her choice, but the moment he opened his eyes, she knew
she would trade her life for him in an instant.
And she might have to, if his cries are heard by the soldiers swarming the street like ants over rotting fruit,
sucking the life and wealth from the earth.
Still, she closes her eyes,
and rocks him in her arms.
The shouts of the soldiers get closer,
and she murmurs a prayer under her breath.
But the fearlessness that surprises me most is in those at the end of their journey.
They know that they are nearing the end, and
yet they lean back and close their eyes,
like they are only sleeping,
swap smiles with their loved ones,
share a last word of wisdom
Humankind is, on the whole, a cowardly race,
too prone to fighting wars
over petty problems,
naming themselves warriors and kings,
smothering themselves in glory like bears with fresh honey,
boasting bravery and courage and strength.
But those who walk upstream,
pushing against the ebb and flow,
turning the tide
drip by drip,
are the true warriors.
And have fearlessness inside them that makes them kings and queens
a thousand times over.
Bravery is found in the most unexpected of places.