Two brief profiles in courage

Dear Editor,

  It takes psycho-spiritual and intestinal fortitude or guts to do something despite the lingering fear and especially so when the outcome remains largely unknown. So, when Seal Team Six departed from their base in Afghanistan en route to Abbottabad, Pakistan, on a daring mission to capture or kill Osama bin Laden it was undoubtedly a remarkable exemplification of courage par excellence. Members of Seal Team Six that conducted the raid which killed Osama bin Laden would have been rehearsing fervently for their operation, applying every aspect of their training in the process, leaving no detail unchecked. The Seals’ state of readiness prior to departing for Osama would have given them the confident assurance which persuaded every or most fiber of their being that they were adequately equipped to successfully execute their mission as planned and trained for.

  But digressing philosophically, since fear, like courage, are not quantifiable quantities, both cannot be measured or observed, it would be interesting to learn how courageous those Navy Seals had to be to relegate their fears into the deeper recesses of their minds in order to remain focussed and attentive during what could be considered one of military history’s most unsure 45 minutes. The preceding therefore begs the question, what really gives us the adequate amount of motivation to act without allowing the all too present fear of the unknown to paralyze us into a state of passivity and inertia? Perhaps we can look for and gain insight from psychology, particularly the writings of Sigmund Freud and his study of our unconscious ideas and purposes.

  Secondly, after the assassinated Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi fell out of favor with the powerful ruling Saudi family and fled to the US, he knew he was tinkering with and annoying violent and revengeful foes, albeit with his pen. Nevertheless, Khashoggi continued with his criticism of the Saudi government bringing into the Saudi popular consciousness the oppressive practices of the Saudi regime. Jamal knew the resources and influences of the Saudi elite he was targeting through his Washington Post columns could reach him anywhere on earth. But Jamal never relented with his offensives and attacks, and just like the courageous undertakings of DEVGRU no one knew or could have said definitively then or with any amount of certainty now what was required in terms of courage in the psychological milieu of both Khashoggi and Seal Team Six to act accordingly.

  So, whatever it was that motivated both Jamal and Seal Team Six to engage in selfless acts of courage, it continues to provide us with examples of inspiration and pleasant reminders that we as humans have the capacity to live courageous, purposeful and fulfilling lives.

Orlando Patterson