Heroism or foolishness: What is selfless courage?

He never carried a weapon, but Desmond Doss didn’t enter the war unarmed.

By Linden Chuang.

 

Here’s something to consider: what if Desmond Doss had only rescued seven men instead of 75 on that night at Hacksaw Ridge? What if he had been killed on the first day of battle without a single saved soul to show for it? Would we have called him courageous or a fool?

We often associate courage with acts of heroism, but courage is really about the state of the heart.

Dr Brené Brown says, “courage is a heart word.” After all, the root word for “courage” is cor, the Latin word for heart. Doss’s bravery, then, is not so much about what he accomplished at Hacksaw Ridge, but his willingness to climb up there in the first place.

So why did he do it? Why did he run into the battlefield when everyone else was retreating?

Two reasons: faith and love.

Doss wasn’t ignorant. He was a medic, not a Marvel superhero, and he knew his limitations. But he also had faith in a very big God who promised to strengthen him, help him and never leave him (see Isaiah 41:10, Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9).

Paulo Coelho once wrote that “an act of courage is always an act of love.” The two are inseparable. The Bible, Doss’s self-described “source of strength,” builds on this idea, saying to “stand firm in the faith, be courageous” and “do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV).

Faith, courage and love.

Heart.

Doss was no fool. He never carried a weapon, but he didn’t enter the war unarmed.

“My strength has the strength of ten because my heart is pure.”—Alfred Lord Tennyson

One thought on “Heroism or foolishness: What is selfless courage?

  1. What a WONDERFULL WONDERFULL MAN AND A TRUE HERO may his GOD and mine be the same for I would love to meet him in our Heaven

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