“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”
― Maya Angelou

We often think of courage as daredevil acts. People who are adventurous and willing to try anything have always struck me. I am not one to go skydiving, jump off of a high board, try bungee jumping or tackle an opponent. These fearless acts are exhilarating for some while being terrifying to others. But, courage goes beyond these activities.

To me, courage is grit.

My courage comes from my family who has survived real adversity and struggle. My parents were born in India and journeyed to Africa, where I was born, to create a better life. We lived there until I was the age of 3 when Idi Amin, the country’s dictator, exiled us from Uganda. Having to declare political alyssum, we were fortunate to have escaped safely and were equally lucky to be sponsored by a church group to come to the U.S. in the early 70’s. In fact, coming to the States was my father’s dream. He wanted to make sure to give us the best education possible and so it was his desire to come to America, of course. Here, anything is possible. I am living proof of that. 

Shortly after coming here, my father got a job in a factory and hurt his back from the physical demands of the job and needed back surgery. While the surgery was supposed to make him better, it ended up paralyzing him. I was six and our world was forever changed.

Growing up I witnessed courage and pure grit every day. My father fought to get better for one reason only &emdash; for his family. It is through his example that my devotion to my own family is so deep. He struggled the rest of his life in writhing pain with multiple falls, accidents, and endless trips to the hospital and pain clinics. His suffering was hard to watch, but he never made us feel sorry for him. He had a determination and a will to live like no other. He was stoic, optimistic and always encouraging. He lived until the age of 86 because he was a fighter and dedicated to being there for us in whatever way he could, for as long as he could. There is no one (other than my mother) who is braver. As I think about courage I try to honor my parents by emulating them in any way I can. Because of them, I strive to be courageous in big ways and in small.

Courage is accepting the cards you have been dealt and making the best of it.
Courage is forgiveness.
Courage is working past adversity.
Courage is never giving up and never losing hope.
Courage is the will to keep going when it is not clear where it will lead you.
Courage is to keep faith when all hope seems to be lost.

I remind you that it is not fully obvious who may be courageous. At face value, we never fully know what someone is made of, what people have experienced, or even what has gotten them to where they are. I challenge you to be courageous enough to never underestimate anyone, see beyond the surface, keep going, overcome obstacles and achieve your wildest dreams.

Roopa Weber
About Roopa Weber
Roopa Weber is a first time children’s book author who has created the Penny the Peacock series. Roopa’s inspiration for Penny came from the values and love provided by her mother. She wanted to find an avenue to instill her mother’s wisdom in her own daughter and carry the message forward generationally. And, so she wrote.