Courage In the Face of Complacency


(not my image)

Most people think of cowardice as being the opposite of courage.  Those people might share an example of the heroic fireman blasting past the trembling bystander in to a building engulfed in flames as a contrast between courage and cowardice.

This certainly still applies in my estimation, but Rickson Gracie said something on Rogan’s podcast that got my attention.  I’m paraphrasing, but Rickson said something to the effect of, “In modern society, the opposite of courage is not cowardice.  It’s complacency.”  While looking in to this topic, I found that Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”  Rickson and Mandela… good enough for Killer J.

In our somewhat civilized society, most people aren’t faced with fending off hordes of marauders, launching spears in to charging rhinos, or Tarzan’ing from a jungle vine and rescuing a baby from the clutches of a crocodile.  That stuff happens, just not all that often.

Most of us are faced with less imminently severe stressors, but in the long term, our modern day stress can be crippling and is kept in place by complacency.  Do you have a job you don’t like, but fear quitting and doing your own thing?  That’s complacency.  Are you trapped in a bad relationship, but you won’t leave because you fear being alone?  That’s complacency.  If you’re a jiujitsu player, do you find yourself not progressing because you stick to your “A” game at all times while sparring because you fear trying out a new technique and failing?  Complacency.

I know I have fallen in to the complacency trap multiple times in my life with various things, so don’t take this post as being preachy.  I’ve let fear best me plenty of times, and the comfort of the mundane and predictable has been alluring enough to freeze me up for periods of time.  I need to remember to have the courage to take that leap, and not let fear bind me anymore.  Neither should you!


4 thoughts on “Courage In the Face of Complacency

  1. First, repost. Secondly, what would you say is the difference between complacency and being comfortable? Thirdly, Nietzsche said something along the lines that courage is the best way to overcome suffering, and the best way to do that is to test it. What do you think of that?

    • When I think of somebody that is complacent, I think of somebody that is in a situation in which they don’t change something even though they should. The dictionary says something about complacency is having a smug satisfaction with being comfortable even though there is some danger they are blind to. I guess getting comfortable in a situation that is not wise to let yourself become comfortable in because the fear of change is too great or because you have allowed yourself to become oblivious to the threat.

      As far as Nietzsche’s quote, I want to make sure I am understanding it right. Is he basically saying face your fear?

      • Nietzsche can be so open to interpretation that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what he’s saying. He basically states that courage is the best way to overcome suffering.

      • I love how a philosopher can just be vague as hell and their thoughts get to be seen as “open to interpretation.” lol Like a politician.

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