“When life gets tough, the tough get going.” This timeless proverb may be true for some but, for others, hardship can be too much to overcome. When the going gets tough, their life simply falls apart. What is it exactly that separates those who thrive regardless of adversity and those who don’t? Is it genetics, luck, or pure willpower?
Consider that Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison before he became the first democratically elected president in South Africa. Abraham Lincoln failed in business, had a nervous breakdown, and was defeated eight times in elections before becoming president. A boy born to a teenage alcoholic prostitute and an absentee father found himself in trouble throughout his childhood, eventually growing up to be Charles Manson.
These examples are extreme, but they demonstrate the different routes people may choose when facing major obstacles. Some people turn to alcohol and drugs, stealing, or physical violence. Nearly 16,000 people drank themselves to death in 2010. Every year, more than 3 million children will witness domestic violence in their home. Conversely, many people have gone through hell and back and are moral, happy, and successful. As a youth violence and family trauma psychologist, it’s my job to find the turning point between the right path and the wrong one.
In my own life I dealt with hardship and failure. My family was poor. I had to cope with suicides, mental illness, and domestic violence; two of my family members died of alcoholism. My grandmother was a teacher and I thought I would follow in her footsteps. After attempting to go to school for teaching, I realized that I was not cut out for it. I felt like I had failed. When I was young, I tried to be a writer and was not successful. My first marriage was a failure, as was my first business. I was challenged significantly when I enrolled in my Ph.D. program at the age of 42 and my classmates were all 20 years younger.
And the story would not be complete without telling you that someone attempted to rape me when I was a young woman. I only told a few people. I cried and cried. I wanted to scrub the skin right off my body. Yet today, I can face my fears and am a big fan of “Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit.”
Despite all these trials, life marched on and turned out positive. I earned my Ph.D. I am a successful non-fiction writer and the author of two books that have sold well. I own my own practice, Eastern Shore Psychological Services, which has grown considerably and won numerous awards. And I am happily remarried to a loving husband, although I once told myself that I’d never marry again.
Why was I able to overcome the negative parts of my life when others from similar backgrounds have ended up addicted to substances or in jail? The simple answer is that I had enough protective factors in my life to outweigh my risk factors. For instance:
- The neighborhood I grew up in was safe.
- I was always supported by people who loved me.
- I did well in school and had opportunities to succeed.
- I had pro-social role models.
- I received treatment for depression and PTSD.
- There were many happy events in my life.
- I kept going, one foot after the other, no matter what.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found that children who have more than five risk factors (learning problems, maltreatment, chaotic neighborhoods, etc.) and less than six protective factors (adult support, life skills, clear standards set by care givers, etc.) have an 80% chance of committing future violent acts. This means that, while we all face varying levels of hardship, there must be a counterbalance of positives in our lives so that we may continue to grow and succeed.
Looking back at my family members who struggled, I realize that they did not have the level of support and education about depression and alcoholism that I was fortunate to have. At two points in my life, I had problems controlling my anger, just like my father. But I gained support through education and friends, and I learned to deal with it effectively. Without these support systems, statistical research says that I would most likely have failed.
It’s true that some of our ability to deal with hardships and failure has to do with biological traits and genetics. Some of it may have to do with luck. But mostly it has to do with the environment and people around us. Our parents, siblings, peers, educators, and community all play a vital role in shaping who we become. Life is tough and we all have our own challenges to face. But we don’t have to face them alone. With a caring heart and encouraging hand, we can all play a role in supporting others through their greatest hardships.
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–Dr. Kathy Seifert
Courage Essay- To Kill A MockingbirdGet Your
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Courage Courage, courage can be defined by many things, people, and actions but courage to me is defined the mind, or the spirit of one individual that allows one to face danger, difficulty, or pain without fear. Acts of courage are extremely prevalent in the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. Courage is prevalent in all phases of the characters lives, and they have to act upon that in all phases. Throughout the entire course of the novel you will see courage in almost all the characters, but I see the most courage out of three characters.
These three characters all have different motivations, they acted out their courage in three different ways, they all reacted to their adversity differently. The characters who exemplify this are Jem Finch, Mrs. Dubose, and Atticus Finch. Jem faced great adversity, and was needed to be courageous throughout the entire book. He often would stand up to adults of the town, Jem often would buy into bets and do very courageous acts. One large example of Jem’s courage is his action with the Radley house. He knew there was a threat of Boo Radley waiting for them with a gun.
But he overcomes the possibility of being shot to please the others. His courage roots from pleasing Atticus, he would rather get shot than displease Atticus. With Jem being the oldest son of Atticus, there is a lot of pressure to be a shining examples for the other kids, and be the pride of the Finches. Jem must overcome any fear present, and do any courageous act necessary just to rid himself of Atticus’ disapproval. If you looked at Mrs. Henry Dubose’s situation in the novel, it would be difficult understanding her need for any courageous acts. She is old, she is ill, and she is dying.
She also has a strong addiction to morphine, something she is not proud of. She is near dying, and she could have just watched her last moments go by without any struggle, but she chose to rise up and die addiction-free. She displayed courage in times where most people would surrender to the drug, and also her being able to stick to secret about her addiction shows great courage. Nobody knew about her problems, she didn’t want other to feel burdened by her situation. Which I came to respect this character the most, because of the way she handled this situation. She anted to make this her own battle, she wanted to do this on her own. She knew she was dying, but what kind of person would she be if she gave up and died addicted to something she was not proud of? She remained very strong in her spirit and her belief, and stuck to her main motivations; to rid herself of morphine before she dies. She managed to do so, and that is one of the most courageous acts, if not the most courageous act seen throughout the entire novel. How could you speak about courage throughout the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, without speaking of Atticus Finch?
There is a significant amount of courage seen through this man. It begins in his professional life. He does something no other person would even dare to do, defend Tom Robinson in the court of law. He knew that this case would affect him and his family, but he was willing to do that for justice, that is courage at its finest. He does what courage calls for, facing fears. Atticus faces the fear of Maycomb’s dislike and takes the stereotypes and racism head first. He never turned his back on those who needed him, or on his failure.
He only shows this courage because he is motivated by doing what is morally right, and preventing cruelty. He feels the need to show people the necessity of what he is trying to show. Atticus professionally, is one of the most courageous characters in the novel. There is all of this courage in Atticus’ professional life, but there is also a great amount of courage in his family life. It is hard for him to raise a family as a single father, he relies heavily on the help of others like Calpurnia, and even Aunt Alexandria. He is courageous in is words to his kids, and how he raises his family.
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The Finch family takes constant ridicule, and he has to stay calm for his kids. If he does something bad, what is he teaching his kids? He has the courage to not look for others for advice of his kids. Atticus has the courage to do what is morally right, and to let Scout and Jem leave be. That is what makes Atticus be courageous, that is why he strives to do what he does. In the novel, Atticus said “… Instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. (Lee 149). This quote becomes Atticus’ definition of courage, and he sticks to this definition in his case with Tom Robinson. Atticus’ knew he was “licked” entering the case, and remained courageous and went through with it anyway. Nobody in the novel did an act of courage out of randomness, the rooted their acts from a need or motivation. Courage is the want to do succeed, and to do the righteous thing regardless of the end result. Nobody acted upon their acts in hopes of winning. Everyone won and lost, either way they did not regret what they did for the sake of righteousness and good intentions. cou
Author: Gene Jeremiah
Courage Essay- To Kill A Mockingbird
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