On Risking your Neck

Indian culture until I was about 40 years old was shaped and warped by the threat of communal violence. A link to an article where I discussed this is below:

I would like to state that as a result of this threat kids and young men in India were taught that the highest good was in getting along with people and not getting into fights and altercations of any sort.

I have faced harassment as a result myself. I was unruly and quarrelsome as a kid and young man and this trait of mine got me into trouble with my elders in school, workplace and at home.

It was almost as if this was the only thing that mattered. But over time and in the long run the same qualities that were getting me into trouble proved to be my salvation.

And this was because in addition to being quarrelsome I had another trait or quality – I had courage.

I want to make the point here that the quality of being brave should be encouraged in our youth and young adults. In fact, it should be taught in schools at least for the boys.

Another of my blogs on this subject is linked to below:

One of my favourite authors, Dick Francis, has written eloquently on the need for courage if a nation is to climb heights and become great. Below is a passage wherein he gives his views. This is from the novel, Flying Finish. The narrator and protagonist is Henry and he is chatting with his friends Patrick and Gabriella

‘… faith doesn’t move mountains anymore, it gets bogged down in committees, Patrick said, ‘and the saints of the past would be smeared as psychological misfits today.’

‘Could you imagine the modern French army allowing itself to be inspired and led into battle by a girl who saw visions?’ he said. ‘You could not.’

It was true. You could not.

‘Psychology, Patrick said, ‘is the death of courage.’

‘I don’t understand’, protested Gabriella.

‘Not for girls, he said. ‘For men. It is now not considered sensible to take physical risks unless you can’t avoid them. Ye gods, there is no quicker way to ruin a nation than to teach its young men it is foolish to take risks. Or worse than foolish they would have you believe.’

‘What do you mean?’ she said.

‘Ask Henry. He will cheerfully go out and risk his neck on a racehorse any day of the week. Ask him why.’

‘Why?’ she asked, half serious, half laughing …

‘I like it,’ I said. ‘It is fun.’

Patrick shook his red head. ‘You look out, pal, you mustn’t go around admitting that sort of a thing these days … Nearly all nations used to have elaborate tests for young men to prove they were brave. Now in England they are taught to settle down and want security. But bravery is built somewhere in human nature and you can’t stamp it out any more than the sex urge … ‘

‘But,’ Gabriella said wonderingly, ‘I do not like a man to say that he is a coward. Who wants that? A man is for hunting and defending and for keeping his wife safe’.

‘Back to the caves’, I said.

‘Our instincts are still the same,’ observed Patrick. ‘Basically good’.

‘And a man is for loving’, Gabriella said.

‘Yes indeed’, I agreed with enthusiasm.

‘If you like to risk your neck, I like that. If you risk it for me, I like it better.’

‘You mustn’t say so,’ said Patrick smiling. ‘There is probably a vile explanation for that too.’

We all laughed …

Flying Finish is one of the best Dick Francis novels and he has written a good many classics. There are many people who have taught me how to live and Dick Francis is prominently one of them.

Some comments by a Reader:

How true that we need to have courage. The courage of conviction. But increasingly it is becoming a thing of the past. Gone are the days of a Bhagat Singh or a Gandhi. Bhagat Singh died for the country. Gandhi and his followers braved lathis and horses hooves, unarmed.
Today’s generation is scared even to write its dissent, leave alone march in protest. Those who do, like the women wrestlers, are few and far between. God bless them. And may their cause win.
Most of the other protesters, like the “farmers” who laid siege for months, are rich and powerful themselves and have political clout.They have money as well as muscle and influence. And the govt is forced to retreat.
We need more young people, ensconced in their corporate cocoons to pick up cudgels and stick their necks out. May the good lord or whoever is up there create more people of character and strength.

My Response:

Nice Comments. But Dick Francis was probably thinking of how the British empire was won. Also a lot of the scientific inventions that run the global economy were due to the people in western nations having the courage and independence to think for themselves

I hope you liked this article. Please share it on WA, FB and Twitter and let me have your comments. Feedback from my readers keeps me going.

Find this handy. Buy me a Coffee

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: