Sunday, June 03, 2007

Behind courage

According to guinness world record, Jackie Bibby and Rosie Reynolds-McCasland (both USA) jointly hold the record having sat in two separate tubs, each with 75 Western Diamondback rattlesnakes on the set of 'Guinness World Records: Primetime' on September 24, 1999 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Shooting the fear’s heart

What is this thing we call courage? What are the most common situations where people show courage? Why do some people show courage? There are questions to be raised when we try to conceptualize courage.
It’s true that everyone feels afraid of something. There is nobody who never felt fear. The difference is the things or situation which makes someone feel afraid; it varies from one person to another but everybody is afraid of something.
This essay intends to enquire in to the topic stared above, although many scholars don’t show an interest in this topic.
It’s very difficult to find a consensual definition of courage. For this essay, we have to understand courage as a capacity to dominate a personal fear and what intimidates you. Furthermore it’s important to determine what make us overcome our fear.
In general we are able to lose anxiety when we are sure that our enemy is weak and easy to dominate, otherwise we can’t get courage enough to dominate our enemy. For this case, we consider enemy not only people, but everything that make us feel fearful or just scared. It can include objects (a gun, scissor, a mask, etc.), situations (smocking drugs, to drive, to present a paper, etc.), and more.
Fear was also studded by psychologists like J. Watson, and P. Ekman, who argued that it’s innate to all human being. This essay intends to discus this topic by social influences, not by psychological viewing related in innatist theories.
Usually it’s not easy to be convinced that we can dominate our enemy, because we have a common history with our demon. In this history we remember that from the first experience we faced that, something or someone else convinced us that we are weak for that demon. Something or someone ensured us that our demon is too strong and too determined to dominate us. That’s why we run away from the things which intimidate us, instead of facing them. We can’t be afraid of something that we don’t know.
As we said before, we need to understand what makes us conquer our fear and become convinced that it’s possible to dominate our demon. When it happens we are experiencing a moment of courage. In this moment, we lose the sense of danger.
Most of the time, we lose the sense of danger when adrenaline floods our brain. It makes us feel stronger than ever before. When we feel strong, remember, our enemy becomes weaker than us, and we find it easy to confront him. In this situation courage is unquestionable.
Without adrenaline, there are other situations that stimulate a sense of power. Among these are all kinds of drugs like alcohol, opium, cocaine, LSD, etc. Not only can the drugs provide the feeling of superiority against our enemy. Sometimes the political power in the government, economic power in the society, charismatic power, etc. are able to bring us courage against our enemy. Remember that the thing which frightens us varies from person to person, and this variance depends of each persons history related to his enemy. For example, what we hear, read, see, witness, etc. about our demon makes our personal history, determining our fear.
If everybody is afraid of something, the same can be applied for courage. Everybody can show courage in a given situation and circumstance, but it depends on the way one stimulate himself for the moment.
For this section, we can finish the discussion with the following question: How can we naturally produce adrenaline in our body, witch is supposed to be the fuel of courage? What is the relationship between the feeling of fear and the real possibility of danger?

The feeling of fear and the real danger

We said before that none could be afraid of something he doesn’t know. First of all, he or she has to hear or get some experience about the object of fear. It will create knowledge about how it can be dangerous for him or her. The idea of danger, can be different from each person to another who experienced the same conditions of fear. This let us to conclude which that idea produced in our mind is not objective, and sometimes has not a direct relationship with the real danger. It happens because the human rationality have not a power to understand and to get all the information about the object observed as Karl Popper said. We can only get a part of information about the object observed. For this instance, the fear we create about something, have not a direct relationship with the danger of the object which frighten us.
There a several cases which one can be afraid of something that in itself is not dangerous, and the opposite is true. One can lose the sense of danger for a thing which is really dangerous for his life. For the first case the example is the situation that someone is afraid to tell some information to his friend, because he expects a bad reaction from him. But for his surprise there is not a bad reaction after the action take place. What really happened was the idea of danger created with the information got about that person. Those information can be given by people who really don’t know exactly the object of our fear. Because our mind, we accept as a truth all the data about our object of fear, and next we create automatically a fear about that. But later the reality shows us that our object is not really dangerous.
The second example is applied for people who use drugs (alcohol, cocaine, opium, LSD, morphine, etc.). They are supposed to lose completely the sense of danger, but it must be considered by the doze they take that. In some case, there are drug users who comity crimes without measure it’s consequence, and during their incursion they involve themselves in a life risk without feel afraid of something. This example show, that the danger has its own existence which don’t depend of what we think about it. There are so many examples that can explain how sometimes we produce wrong ideas which frighten us, or just clean up our fear replacing it by courage.
An Austrian philosopher – Popper - has said that the human mind cannot reach the truth completely. We can find only a part of information about the object we intend to stud, although the positivists argued differently. But when we observe the behavior behind the fear and courage, it’s easy to understand what Popper wanted to tell us. Following this line of ideas, Lakatos – a Hungary philosopher- argued that no theorem of informal mathematics is final or perfect. This enhance the idea we stated before, that our mind cannot reach the truth exactly, which make us sometimes get fear or courage, but those feelings have not a direct relations with the object we are involved with.
To end this section, let’s raise one more question: what’s the role of fear in our lives?

The courage on Socrates death

As we said before, none can be afraid of something that he doesn’t know. But one could ask about the fear people feels with death. We know that so many people feel fear about the idea of disappear forever. This must be understood as the conception that Mr. Sadam Ussein never more will be the same person. Never more will be the president, of his country, will never see the people he knew, will never listen a music he liked, etc. he finished, and it will be concluded when the history forget him. Usually people are afraid of this idea of death. With this statements, we conclude that people thinks that they know something about death, this’ why they become afraid about it.
Scholars like Stephen Maret, Arthur Janov, Stanislav Grof, and Frank Lake, etc. have studded the origins of dread of death. Frank Lake for example, argue that people who are able to commit suicide, had a near of death experience during their birth. In that moment they experience a psychological and physical traumas that bring them the will to return to the womb or just die, for solve the pain. It mean that their unconscious save the experience of the moment which will determine their behavior for all their lives. For this instance during adult life, for any problem which causes pain or anguish, the person realizes that the death can be the solution. In one word, could say that people who are not afraid to commit suicide or just die, have some experience/or are familiarized with near of death experience. In other hand, they know their object of fear.
A Greek philosopher, Socrates, was condemned to die because of his political and philosophical position in his country. “He was nevertheless found guilty for corrupting the youth of Athens and sentenced to death by drinking a mix of the poisonous hemlock”. Before he was killed, he experienced a imprisonment for some pear of days. During this time, he had a chance to escape from the prison but he refused that, preferring to die.
Some scholars argue that “shortly before dying, Socrates spoke his last words to Crito saying, "Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius. Please, don't forget to pay the debt." Asclepius was the Greek god for curing illness, and its likely that Socrates' last words were implied to mean that death is the cure, and freedom, of the soul from the body”.
His courage deserves some critical analysis, because it can be considered an uncommon behavior. A lot of people who says that are not afraid of death, shows different behavior when the conditions to die are created. For example they can beseech when a gangster point him with a gun; they can become worried when are too ill; they can run away from a dangerous animal in a bush, and so on.
To get courage, we have to mind ourselves which we are able do dominate the object of fear. Probable Socrates had a strong faith about life after death; this is why he was convinced that death is the cure of the soul from the body. He believed in a good life of the soul outside the body. This faith makes him strong in his position to deny running away from the sentence he was condemned, and accept death as a release of human soul. Socrates agued that a real philosopher, must not be afraid of death. Around his behavior, we can consider that his courage was motivated by the strong faith he developed about the death, so for the instance he won and dominate the fear.
When we are sure about how strong we are, and about the power we have to dominate something, the fear disappear completely emerging in that moment the courage. This one doesn’t appear if we don’t trust in our capability or just our power related to the object of relationship.
Not only the drugs or adrenaline can provide us courage; there are many reasons for that including the faith as the case of Socrates. When we believe in something, and we are sure that the object of our faith is smooth and kind, it’s impossible to get fear from it. Differently, the one who don’t have a same idea from us can become afraid to touch the same object we touched, it doesn’t mean that our faith cannot betray us. Sometimes we get deception when later we discover that during all the time we lived an illusion about our faith. It’s difficult to state about the Socrates case. We can’t say if he got deception or not about the things he believed concerning the death, and it’s not a purpose of this essay.
Scholars argue that “a characteristic of living things is the fear of death.[…] Life is 'programmed' with fear of death from the moment of creation, and the purely primal 'meaning of life' would be to avoid death as long as possible”. This statement takes us to the idea of fear relevance. Is it true that we live and survive because of fear?