I wanted to write about cowardice, but I was afraid

I wanted to write about cowardice, but I was afraid. Because cowardice is serious business. On a very personal scale, I dare say “coward!” is the most aggressive swearing in the Portuguese language. Yes, more than the ones you’re thinking about. Calling someone a coward presupposes, among other things, that someone is willing to do anything (anything at all!) to get out of an awkward situation. Or worse: that someone projects onto others defects as abominable as they are unconfessable – and that’s why he’s afraid.

I’m nothing but a bar anthropologist, but I would say here, even because a categorical statement like that looks beautiful in the chronicle, that in all the societies of the world the coward is a pariah. Then I go further, I put my pince-nez and everything, and I add: this is partly due to military tradition and the exaltation of what today innumerable cowards call “toxic masculinity”. ”, yes, but also a little because of the physical and spiritual disgust that the coward awakens.

After all, the coward is that person who, in the face of a challenge, hesitates or refuses to act. Or go over any principle to save yourself. He is also that person who provokes, but refuses to bear the consequences. And there is still the coward who fears everything and everyone because he lacks the fundamental grace of trust – in his fellow men, in strangers, in the honor of adversaries, in that truly treacherous abstraction that society can be, in institutions and, finally, in divine designs. .

And yet, we are all at least a little cowardly. Some more, some less. Some yesterday, some today, but nobody wants to be the coward of tomorrow! Ah, I’ll even take advantage of this paragraph to say that this text is not an indirect to anyone – because only a very cowardly coward makes indirect accusations. I am writing about cowardice, therefore, without looking at anyone but myself. Which, let’s face it, requires a lot of courage. Although acknowledging this seems cowardly. Better stop here, because now I’m confused.

As I was saying before I was interrupted by myself, we are all at least a little cowardly. Some more, some less. Some now, others soon. In our most varying degrees of cowardice, we are united by one constant: justification. Note: cowardice is always accompanied by “there was no way out” or “there was no alternative” or “it was all I could do”. And now it occurred to me that you might have a political-electoral reading of this and… that’s ok. I may have been and have been, but I won’t be a coward again to the point of wanting to control the way people interpret my texts.

Cowardice, however, and thankfully, has its mitigating factors. Use them with care, I would say, subtly hinting at the first of these mitigating factors, which goes by the friendly name of “precaution”. Or by the nickname of “caution”. The cautious (or cautious) man is by no means a coward. Well, maybe just a little. The same cannot be said of the overly cautious man. The type who thinks he is capable of foreseeing all dangers and who, when faced with them, chooses to curl up under the bed.

The border between wise precaution and shameful cowardice is, for me, a mistery. For you probably too. At what moment, by the way, does the brave or daring, for fear of being confused with a coward, become just an arrogant and untimely fool, capable of the greatest atrocities to play the hero ? I don’t know. I’m cowardly throwing the questions at the readers. Answer those who have courage.

The same question is used for two other mitigating factors that occurred to me just now: patience and fraternity. At what point does the patient man, for fear of being mistaken for a coward, give in to the temptation of haste and instinctively act just to play the hero? And how can you call someone a coward who gives up the momentary courage to protect others, be they family, friends, co-workers or even strangers?

In a politically weird environment like the one we live in, it seems that our senses are heightened. It’s either that or it’s the melancholy of the braba on these humid and cold days, because I believe that cowards are more numerous and, contrary to the most elementary logic (what a cowardice to use a cliché like that here!), more daring when expressing their cowardice. Again, however, I am obliged to ask that the word “cowardice” be read here with due caution, benevolence and, if it is not too much to ask, humility. After all, the one who seems to us the most cowardly can harbor within himself a silent and inaccessible courage, which is expressed by an uncommon prudence, patience and charity.

See?! That was precisely why I was afraid to write about cowardice. As you can see, it’s not easy to talk about something that moves our pride so much, the image we have of ourselves and the image we believe we project to the world. But I tried, and for that alone I feel a little less of a coward. Although the self-cowardometer goes up again when, already by the title, I fear misunderstanding, total incomprehension or, even worse, hostile reading. Am I a coward because of this? I do not know. I only know that it is finished.

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