They say that discretion is the better part of valor. That’s what they say. But you know what? I think sometimes a little less discretion gets you a lot more valor. This expression has always bothered me.
VALOR: strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness : personal bravery
Yes to firmness and personal bravery! I value courage…acts of courage both big and small. All this talk of “discretion” in the same phrase as valor makes me uncomfortable. So I went to the mountaintop to seek the wisdom of the ancients…..(I googled it).
Here is what I discovered! The phrase has its origins in Shakespeare’s Henry IV. And, as it turns out, is basically quoting a coward named Falstaff in the scene described below.
So I was right to be uncomfortable with this phrase….well, at least according to William Shakespeare. But my contemporary anecdotal experience is that this phrase is not used in a joking fashion.
And that bothers me.
It bothers me because I think we are living in an age where courage and valor are not trending in the right direction.
My son and I went to see the latest Star Wars movie recently. We really enjoyed it. What I like about Star Wars is the enduring theme that there is good and evil in the world…and that they are both powerful forces.
Furthermore, there will always be a struggle between the two and that individuals have to make choices. Affirmative choices.
I feel like the divide between ”Good and Evil” has been watered down in today’s culture. Who one identifies as the good guy or the bad guy often depends on your perspective these days. There is a lot of grey it seems to me. Too much grey. Not enough valor.
I blame Discretion.