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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-13-06 05:54 PM
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When I was a young boy my grandfather told me that all bullies were cowards. I believed him because he was my grandfather and I knew that he was very intelligent, but I didnt understand what he had told me. I knew that bullies were mean, but I couldnt understand how he figured that they were cowards.

Ive thought about this for decades, but I never understood it until, over the past five years Ive observed the most ruthless bunch of thugs ever to have led our nation. I dont claim to totally understand it even now, but I understand it a lot better than I ever did before.

Since cowardice is a negative concept it is best understood by first considering its opposite counterpart, which is bravery.

If a person sees another person in danger and tries to rescue that person, especially at considerable risk to him or herself, then that person is acting heroically. Generally speaking, the hero acts because he or she cares a great deal about the welfare of someone else.

One of the best examples of a hero on a national scale is Martin Luther King. Dr. King devoted his life to trying to right wrongs and thereby to provide an opportunity for a better life for millions of Americans. He did this at considerable risk to himself of being jailed or killed, and eventually he died for his efforts. But even if his commitment to civil rights and justice posed no risk to himself, he would still be a hero for what he did.

Abraham Lincoln was a hero because he hated slavery and he used the power of the Presidency to give thousands of slaves their freedom and outlaw slavery in the United States forever.

And George McGovern was a hero because of his commitment to end the Viet Nam War, which had claimed tens of thousands of American lives and perhaps a million Vietnamese lives, for what McGovern saw as no apparent purpose. Though his bid for the Presidency was a miserable failure, his efforts to end the Viet Nam War probably resulted in a considerable shortening of that war and therefore the sparing of the lives of tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent people. McGoverns political career was soon over, but Im sure that he would be the first to agree that his efforts were worth the cost. McGovern later said that opposing the Viet Nam War as a junior U.S. Senator took more courage for him than the bombing missions he flew in World War II.

Enough examples of heroism. What all of these heroes have in common is that they care deeply about people and they are willing to make personal sacrifices to help give the people that they care about the opportunity for a good and decent life.

Thats what bravery is all about: Caring about ones fellow humans enough to have the courage to overcome ones fears and do something to help. And if you dont think that courage is primarily about caring then ask yourself what other good reason there would be for having it or for admiring it.

A coward is the opposite of a hero

Does that mean that a coward is someone who is fearful of danger?
No it doesnt. Almost all normal people are fearful of danger.

Then is a coward someone who tries very hard to avoid danger?
Not at all. Most sensible people try hard to avoid danger when they sense that it is present.

Then what about someone who sees someone else in danger and refuses to help because they dont want to put themselves at risk?
I say that not even that defines a cowardly act. After all, history shows us that most people fall into that category. You certainly wouldnt call such a persons actions heroic. But neither would I call them cowardly. This example falls somewhere in between the two extremes.

A coward is less than that. A coward is someone who combines fearfulness and uncaring to such a large degree that he or she would actively hurt people to ameliorate his or her fears.

For example, a man who beats his wife or children whenever they say something that annoys him is a coward.

And a person who, sensing the slightest possibility that another person might hurt him, decides to act violently and preemptively against that person, just to avoid that risk, is committing a cowardly act. If that person in such a situation intentionally kills the other person, then that magnifies his cowardice. And if a person kills several hundred people in order to lessen the slightest risk to himself, then the magnitude of his cowardice is huge indeed. Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Saddam Hussein are good examples of huge cowards of this type.

But what if the coward commits these acts, not because of fear of bodily harm, but for some other reason? For example, what if a man who is the leader of a country decides to preemptively invade a much smaller and weaker country because of the natural resources that that country has? Or because this would be a good opportunity for the leader to award contracts or material goods to his friends? Or just to set up military bases in that other country?

I say that that would exhibit as much cowardice as if the coward invaded the other country preemptively because of a fear of violence from the other country. In fact, in the example where the smaller weaker country poses no physical threat to the stronger country, the act of preemptively invading that country is even more cowardly, since there is much less of an excuse for the many thousands of lives that will be lost or ruined as a result of the consequent war. In that case, the leader is destroying lives just to enhance his own pleasure or comfort or whatever. The point is that the leader in question just doesnt give a damn about how many people get hurt or die in order to serve his own ends. Are such actions committed out of fear? I believe that they are. The leader is so fearful that he cant bring himself to care about anything other than his own comfort and glory. I cant think of anything more cowardly than that.

When the coward is the leader of a powerful country the results are especially tragic

In these situations, the cowards need to prove his manliness has great potential to result in war. As Lieutenant General Newbold recently wrote (See post by DeepModem Mom), the decision to invade Iraq was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions. I would add to Gen. Newbolds remark . and just dont give a damn about the lives that are consequently destroyed.

But its not just war that the Head Coward needlessly leads his people into.

Consider a hypothetical example where a man who has no skills, knowledge or aptitude for leadership whatsoever is placed into the leadership of a powerful country by a large group of power brokers.

Such a man may be so stupid or nave as to superficially believe that he earned his position by virtue of his own qualities or achievements but deeper down inside himself he knows damn well how he acquired his exalted position and what he needs to do to maintain it. Consequently the obsequiousness that he shows towards those powerful people who put him in office knows no bounds. Though he is in a position with the potential to do more good or more harm than anyone else on earth, his only concern is that he please those to whom he owes his power, and that he seen as strong and powerful in the eyes of the world and himself.

Such a man is likely to undertake actions which lead to the degradation of the life-preserving resources of the earth, merely to please his puppet masters and make himself look strong.

Such a man is likely to exhibit such callousness towards the citizens of his country that millions of his countrymen and women and children enter into poverty and homelessness every year.

And in the face of a natural disaster, the Head Coward has so little concern about those less fortunate citizens who have too few resources to protect themselves that he will consider it more important to use government rescue workers for photo opportunities than to proceed with their job of saving the lives of those in need. And he will make every excuse in the book to avoid using the resources of the federal government to help those people.

And what about the Head Cowards followers?

I would have to say that when the cowardly actions of a nations leader lead to death and destruction from all those things that I mentioned above, then those who knowingly aid that leader to accomplish his goals are also committing cowardly acts. For the leader cant do those things alone.

Therefore, those who vote for the leaders continuing hold on power, if those voters do so out of the same fear or other motives that motivate the cowardly leader, are also cowards. In fact, the cowardly leader absolutely counts on such enablers in order to continue to hold power so that he can continue on his destructive path.

But how does all this explain why bullies are always cowards?

There are many explanations for this. First of all is the fact that in order to get what he wants regardless of the cost (to others, that is), the Head Coward sometimes has to aggressively and preemptively take what he wants from other people, or even kill them. That is almost the definition of a bully.

But there is also another very important explanation for this.

Cowards know deep down inside who they are, and they cant stand that. They would be humiliated if other people saw them as the cowards that they are. So, they do what they can to avoid being labeled a coward.

They think that by acting tough and bullying other people they will come to be seen as being strong, and therefore other people wont recognize them as a coward.

And that strategy often works. In fact, it works much more often than it should or would work if people were more perceptive.

For example, the coward can strut around in a military uniform even though he isnt a member of the military. Or, if he owns a baseball team, he can have baseball cards printed with his picture on them, though he doesnt play baseball on the team. These are some of the more harmless little tricks that the coward can use.

But there are also much more destructive tricks that cowards use to make themselves appear brave and strong.

Torture is something that our Head Coward believes is particularly manly. So he lets it be known that he does not approve of treating the prisoners softly. His follower cowards get the message and make sure that they dont disappoint him.

BRING EM ON says the Head Coward, in reference to the small country that he intends to invade. Wow, thats impressive! The Head Cowards minions provide videotape of the Head Coward challenging the enemy to BRING EM ON. That certainly makes the Head Coward look brave.

At least until one realizes that the Head Coward is twenty thousand miles away from the enemy whom he is challenging.

So who is the Head Coward asking to Bring on? Oh, hes daring his enemies to try to kill the soldiers whom he sent to die for his glory, and for whom he cares so little that he refuses to supply them with adequate body armor.

Would the Head Coward challenge his enemies to fight him if there was any chance that they could get to him? Well, lets look at it like this. The Head Coward is surrounded by such tight security forces that the only people who are allowed within a thousand feet of him are people who kiss his ass and have promised to never even disagree with him, let alone try to hurt him. After all, what if someone asks the Head Coward a question that he is unable to answer intelligently? That would make him look stupid.

Hmmm. Exactly what IS the Head Coward risking when he beats his chest and says BRING EM ON?

What would be the most cowardly act of all?

The most cowardly act that I can think of would be for the leader of a very powerful country to preemptively attack another country with nucular weapons when other, non-violent and non-destructive and more appropriate alternatives were available to deal with the perceived problem. Such an act would demonstrate an extreme indifference to the lives of other people, as well as a pathological need on the part of the leader to prove his manliness.

In the mind of such a coward, such a wantonly destructive act would earn him a legacy as one of the great conquerors of all time. The deaths of millions of fellow human beings would mean nothing to him. In fact, he might even get a kick out of it. And it would be so easy for him. All he would have to do is give the order and its done. It would be almost as if he was God. Or as if he was carrying out the wishes of God. And it would preclude the need for all those messy negotiations for which he has no competency anyhow.

Lastly, I have to tell you why I think this is so important

I didnt mean to make this sound so preachy.

You may not believe this after reading this post, but I am in general a non-judgmental person, and I do not wish harm to the people I have spoken about in such vehemently insulting terms.

But our country is in the midst of an extraordinarily dangerous crisis right now, and I feel that much more people need to be seeing and describing our situation as it is.

Everybody admires a hero, and nobody wants to be associated with a coward. Therefore, nobody would admittedly actively work to enable (or vote for) a coward to represent his or her country.

But cowards work very hard to disguise their cowardice, and the cowards who currently lead our country have convinced millions of Americans that they are heroic and strong, rather than cowardly leaders.

So it is absolutely crucial that millions of additional Americans learn to recognize the wantonly destructive acts of cowards as the cowardly acts that they are, rather than be fooled into thinking that those acts are heroic and will save them from the harm that they fear so much.

If that does not happen before too long, the United States of America is likely to go the way of the Roman Empire, the Nazis, or any one of the other empires that have ruled the world in the past, and humanity is likely to go the way of the dinosaurs.
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