David Hegg | We Need the Badge of Courage

David Hegg
David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. "Ethically Speaking" runs Saturdays in The Signal.

By David Hegg

Long before Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion walked the yellow brick road, society understood the absolute necessity of courage. This virtue speaks to the willingness to stand firm against opposition and even advance in the name of all that is good and right. Courage is that strength of character that fights compromise while never underestimating the necessity of compassion. Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the overwhelming sense of right that channels fear into positive action toward the necessary goal. And we must realize that, ultimately, courage is the fruit of a radical commitment to all that is right and good, and especially to truth. 

Right now, in our world, country and village, there is a slowly creeping belief that truth — the very idea of absolute truth — is being eroded to the place where we are at a loss to make sense of it all. Something must be done. Someone must stand up and say, “The emperor has no clothes!” 

And yet, even the most courageous of us can weaken in the face of the consequences of courageous action. Often, we believe that courageous action, taken in defense of the truth, may so damage relationships that the best plan is to “go along to get along.” But all too often, failure to act courageously exacerbates the underlying problem and takes us down a path where good options become fewer and fewer. Who will stand up and be the one in the window in the old movie “Network” to shout to the world that we’re mad and we refuse to take it anymore? 

We see this in so many areas of life. The failure to take courageous action politically can allow a state or nation to meander so much deeper into chaos and debt that there no longer appear to be workable solutions. A few years ago, in speaking with a congressman, I heard him say, “We don’t have four-year problems or even eight-year problems. We have 10- or 15-year problems, and until someone is willing to tell the people the truth and raise a righteous political ruckus, we’ll be watching our democratic experiment fall over the cliff of selfishness, greed and criminality.” 

So, if courageous action at the right time is so important, why do we often decide to deny, postpone, or conveniently forget to deal with those challenges that we all know demand our immediate, courageous attention? There are many answers to that question, but chief among them is humanity’s preference to love personal, short-term well-being above long-term success when such long-term thinking will demand immediate pain.  

Simply put, we too often live for today hoping that tomorrow will somehow turn out right. We are shortsighted and have taught ourselves to believe we can choose the easy path today and find it somehow leads to a better tomorrow. The problem is we’re wrong. Even more, most likely the reason we need to take courageous, even painful action today is because we took the easy path yesterday.  

The real problem is we’ve become a soft people, a society addicted to comfort and convenience. Even the recent inflationary trough that has siphoned off more and more of our savings hasn’t really made us mad enough or tough enough to throw the bums out who have been padding their nest eggs while ours are being spent on necessities.  

We’re beginning to recognize the consequences of being a society addicted to the easy, convenient, selfish lifestyle we’ve enjoyed. We’re awakening to the fact that, as a nation, while we were enjoying the good life, someone snuck in and stole our moral compass. Now that the light of reality has been turned on, we’re looking around and seeing a nation we don’t recognize.  

It is increasingly hard to find someone who knows the value of values, the protection of morality, or the benefit of charting a life course guided by integrity, generosity, service to mankind, and a righteous standing before Almighty God. The saddest reality is this: Without an overriding worldview that undergirds a noble purpose in life, it will be impossible to gain the convictions of right and wrong from which a determined courage can arise.  

America’s history is that of courageous individuals determining that the building of a noble, virtuous society was worth the pain of personal sacrifice. We still see that in certain people and places, but not as much as we need. It is time to take stock of the welfare of our society and be courageous in doing the right thing despite the pain it may bring. It is time for courage, so that our children will have some good options when it comes time for them to act.  

Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays. 

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