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The Consequence of Cowardice: America's Urgent Need for a Culture of Courage

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Wednesday’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which left at least 17 people dead, again reminds us that all is not right in the land of the free and the home of the brave. If you have children in the public school system, you’ll probably offer up a special prayer tonight, and hug your child a little longer in the morning before you send him or her off to school. It takes courage to live in America these days – but not for reasons any of us anticipated just a few short years ago. We’ve long been suffering from a leadership void, a crisis of cowardice. We all seem paralyzed, stunned to the point of inaction – and it’s killing us. Literally. We’re in need of a sweeping movement of courageous leadership in America, and we need it now. 

“Insanity,” it’s been said, “is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Truly, we Americans are in la-la land. We want things to change, but most of us refuse to pay attention long enough to muster the backbone that would bring real change from the inside-out. The violence we are experiencing is the consequence of cowardice. 

If sending our children to school in the morning increases the odds of our mourning in the evening, something is seriously wrong. AR-15 rifles belong on the battlefield, not in our public schools. So how did a 19 year old show up with one, and “countless magazines,” and open fire on unarmed students and faculty? It happened, by golly, because we, as a society, refuse to address the root reasons for the rage that is manifesting itself in gun violence and a host of other angry outbursts. If it weren’t guns, we’d be using butter knives. Haven’t we had enough of this insanity? Probably not. We’ve been here before – too many times. 

Without proactive, courageous leadership that addresses the reasons for American violence, the job of law enforcement will be a job none will envy. 

No doubt we’ll read and hear the same old arguments offered up through politicians and celebrities – and we’ll all feel somewhat better for a moment, deceiving ourselves with the notion that discussing a problem is the same as solving it. It isn’t. When the smoke clears, the likelihood is very high that our insanity will continue – we’ll keep doing the same things, expecting the rage to go away. But it won’t, because we have lost the courage to define reality – to lead – and that, in a nutshell, is the real source of all our problems. 

A society that lacks courageous leadership will be paralyzed by fear. We are witnessing this reality before our very eyes. Cowardice, not courage, is winning the war – and it will one day reign supreme if we don’t reverse this trend. If this doesn’t concern you, you’re part of the problem, not the solution. Whose side are you on, after all? It’s time you decide. 

Courage and fear have zero tolerance for each other, and it’s high time we choose which will characterize our nation by choosing which will characterize each of our lives and families. If we want courage to arise in our nation, it must arise in each of our lives.

As long as courage is lacking, cowardice will cripple us. It’s time for every American to stand and deliver. The reality is that the revolution of courage our nation needed yesterday needs to begin today – not in someone else’s life, but, most likely, in each of us. It’s time to get off the sidelines, pay attention to what’s happening, and look for ways to address the root of what ails us. If we deal with the root, we’ll take care of the fruit. 

Michael Anthony is author of “A Call For Courage” a speaker and blogger at, and lead pastor of Grace Fellowship in York, Pennsylvania

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