Honor, Courage, Commitment

I just watched a video of a US marine getting a promotion to sergeant. In the ceremony, the marine was charged with executing his duties according to the Marine Corp’s values of honor, courage, and commitment. These soldiers sometimes face life threatening situations but they are expected to face that challenge with these highest values.

In Paul Tillich’s “The Courage to Be” he talks about the courage of soldiers, who in spite of the risk to their own being, face that risk with courage. It seems to me this is the ultimate embrace of finite being when faced with non-being. Now, this type of courage doesn’t have to be about life or death. It can be found in any situation where ordinary people face adversity with honor, courage, and commitment. The risk might be about finances, personal ego, family, relationships, health, reputation, etc. Life has a way of presenting situations that test our metal. How do we respond?

The actual response to those situations is often not that simple. There are consequences to how we respond that are not known. However, if we try to respond out of our value-commitments, perhaps that is the best we can do. The fact that there is a risk is why values are possible. Without risk nothing really matters.

Perhaps this is why God chose to live finite being. Without the risks that occur in life, values can’t arise. It is the very uncertainty and tentativeness of life that gives life meaning and value. When faced with adversity, we have the opportunity to probe deeply within ourselves to embracing the divine transcendent depth of ultimate values within everything.

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