Without skills in expressing emotionally charged issues, being 'authentic' can become a scary proposition, one that makes us feel we are risking our reputation and self image if we can't do it well. Staying silent or venting to a few close friends is a comfortable seduction, one it is very easy to succumb to as we justify the fear we feel.
It used to be that one of the things that kept us 'safe' was the knowledge that most people were of good will. Most people wanted the best for themselves and others. Most people were honest and had good intent. The culture of disrespect we are now living in undermines that undercurrent of good will. The disrespect, entitlement, and demand for instant gratification has shifted that foundation from one of "us' to one of "me".
Our own journey to personal courage can begin by acting in small ways to reinforce that culture of good will by taking the high road, by not repeating the nastiness we hear, by refusing to act boorishly - even in fun. By holding ourselves to a higher standard we can revive that culture, one relationship, one situation, at a time. Courage does not have to be big risky actions that have profound implications. Courage is really about practicing authentic responses to daily life situations that showcase our higher self and our true values.
By practicing in small ways we can hone a funny and light-hearted response, or we can find a style that is comfortable, honest and not confrontive. Using the shortcuts of political speak, sound bites, name calling is not discourse and not courageous. Speaking truth without making others wrong or demeaning their character takes practice and it is a practice we need to start doing NOW.