A few weeks ago, in the heat of the summer, I ventured to publish here (on LinkedIn) a “literary” post suggesting my friends and contacts to re-read the news of Stefan Zweig. Beyond this invitation, I wondered about his decision to renounce living, where Sylvain Tesson suggests instead to give up to life.
This post had complacency to Zweig’s gesture. It was sad, even a little desperate. That’s why, beyond “like” and comments, it has generated direct, rich, sometimes demanding, always benevolent exchanges, with people usually far from my usual networks. These exchanges were basically the very modest continuation of the debates that agitated intellectual circles, Austrian Jews in particular, at the time of his suicide in the early 40s.
Exchanges about the courage to live and the courage to be oneself, and I intentionally link the two.
What explains the courage? Why this energy that gives some people not to give up ? Why resilience?
The question is essential : at Bard College in New York, City a project led by the Hannah Arendt Center explores the philosophical and religious foundations of “courage to be oneself” : why do women and men keep the courage to the action in conscience where so many others abandon themselves to the individual or collective cowardice, simply giving up?
Courage is never lost. It arises from circumstances.
At the individual level, it comes at first of the rejection, emotional in particular : the child who does not know the tenderness of a mother, the handicapped one of which one turns aside, the lover who is rejected, the old man abandoned by his close relatives and friends must find the energy of resilience. They often develop very positive mechanisms : sensitivity, humor, generosity … and often continue tirelessly to seek to be loved for what they are, with their defects, their imperfections, their particular alchemy.
At the collective level, it comes from events : the desire to respond from the world remains at the heart of men, sleepy often, but always likely to wake up. Thus, in the face of the refugee crisis, Angela Merkel has recently emerged as the only head of state or government of the 28 showing courage, that of proposing to her country, on this very painful subject, a true vision, was she unpopular and with high political risk. The rise of the terrorist peril in France has generated an unprecedented rise in the number of candidates to join French armies, on the reserve or active troops. Further from us, Churchill would have remained only a depressed alcoholic without the events of 1940.
I have fondness for Zweig, and am touched by his fragility. But of course, you must never give up.
“I wanted you to understand what real courage is, instead of imagining that it’s a man with a rifle in his hand. The real courage is to know that you are defeated, but to act nevertheless without stopping”(Harper Lee)
Never give up, act anyway, without stopping …
Good weekend to all.
Iconography: David Bizet, Paris Marathon 2014. Wikimedia Commons. Post originally published in French on LinkedIn.