An undervalued trait: courage

Over the last several months, my life has been made “interesting” by a number of people whose personal agenda conflicts with mine.  While I’m not stranger to that sort of conflict, the “anything goes” approach taken by these folks has given me something new to contemplate.

Conflict is an inevitable part of being human.  If it’s managed with mutual respect, it can actually make the world a better place, by pushing boundaries and questioning assumptions.  My recent ruminations have been about what to do when things get disrespectful and ugly.

My personal conclusion has been that it’s important to not let personal attacks undermine one’s sense of justice, rightness and fair-play.  We all steer by our own compass, and people can and do often disagree as to how to proceed in a given situation.  What I have concluded is really important, though, is to stay on the “high road” (as we conceive of that).  To let others drive us off that path under duress is to compromise who we are.

It takes courage to stay the course.  It’s tempting to give in, to do whatever it takes to make the pain and distraction go away.  I’ve seen many around me succumb to that temptation— but while the temptation is understandable, I see a high price-tag associated with surrender: compromising one’s integrity.

Of course, there’s a difference between being staunch, and being blind or pig-headed.  We live in a world of gray, not convenient black-and-white.  Growth and improvement depend on our receptiveness to, and recognition of, relevant new ideas and new ways of being.  The challenge, of course, is to discern when something new and important has come to light, potentially calling on us to adapt.  Short of such circumstances, though, conviction and steadfastness are crucially important.

All of these thoughts may seem a little out of place in a sexologist’s blog, but that’s not the case.  Sex is a topic that often incites strong reactions in people, especially in those who have received strong “programming” as to what’s right or wrong, sexually.  That’s true of many in our society, reflecting the strong (and sometimes very inappropriate) influence of many of our religious and governmental organizations.  As a sexologist, I’m often the “lightning-rod” that draws out such people’s reactions.  Without the courage to stand by the facts and to remain open-minded and receptive to others’ reality, I can’t do my job.  While I’m not into pain— no, not even of that kind!— I’m willing to tolerate it as the “price of admission” to working with something as central to people’s nature as is our sexuality.  My recent experiences have underscored the importance of my remaining courageous.  I wouldn’t have it any other way!