"I wanted you to see what real courage is, 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 but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do." - To Kill a Mockingbird “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” - Princess Diarie s It seems like Mocking Bird and Princess Diaries have different things to say about courage. The concept of courage has been reverberated by many thinkers, philosophers and readers- all relating it to fear as a boundary to overcome or deal with. If I’m asked what courage is, I would say it is abstract. But that is no way to define courage, or anything. All feelings, emotions and actions are abstract yet there has to be some way of characterising them. So how do we define courage? Let us consider Atticus Finch. The greatest father figure in American literature, Atticus raised his daughter not like a ‘girl’ but like a child. He championed the cause of equality in the backdrop of racial violence and segregation. He looked beyond a person’s social labelling and tried to use empathy, a trait still unheard of. You see, Finch was a great guy. He gave the wisdom with which all inequalities are to be fought- the ability to not judge a person but to understand his/her world through his/her eyes. Atticus was so courageous that even America’s first Black President couldn’t help but quote him in his farewell speech- echoing the wisdom that humanity needs. Finch displayed courage by breaking the norms that society that had set. However it is much forgotten that Finch was a white educated lawyer who could afford to be outwardly courageous. And while there is nothing wrong with that courage, it is not worthless to explore other kinds of courage. The kind of courage Calpurnia showed, the black maid who worked at Finch’s, when she decided to take Finch’s daughter to a black church. Her courage is silent. It is buried under the heaps of social prejudices. Yet it is alive. Calpurnia takes a white young girl, a girl of a superior race, to a black church that she has to visit every Sunday for the rest of her life- because she wants to. Her courage is in the fact that she knows where to assert herself. She knows when to be a dominant lady and a submissive housemaid, to choose her battles wisely. She comments on a young girl’s dress but also inspires her to do greater than what’s expected. Calpurnia had the greater courage to accept inequalities and fight them. She didn’t raise her voice against society but took away society’s voice. So perhaps courage is an act of survival, a tool to build a life that is worth living. We see that in Princess Diaries. Teenage dramas like that are barely considered a case for courage. But tell that to Princess Mia- a self-acclaimed introvert pushed to take the spotlight. She is scared to lose a life that she has had, she is scared to be a princess in a foreign country when she can live an invisible life in America. She is tossed between expectations, and wants to defy her grandmother whom she never liked, her mother who lied to her and a father she never had. She wants to rebel through her lessons and escape the well planned royalty trap. And isn’t that what most teenagers want? We want an escape from people who have unloaded their burdens on us and failed to understand us when we needed them to. We don’t want to open up and face them, we want to run away. So did Mia. Her running away would have been an act of rebellion. But she didn’t. Because courage to her wasn’t defying people, it was looking beyond them. As a sixteen year old, she had immense courage. She looked beyond herself- her loosely held boundaries of insecurity broke when she realised that being a Princess wasn’t a royal duty but a chance to reach to people and make a change. Mia’s courage looks beyond fear. And beyond fear, lies strength. Courage here is a judgement. Courage, as I have seen it in my short lifespan of 18 years, remains abstract. But all kinds of courage share some things in common. They share the want for survival, the belief for greater things and the wisdom to not undermine fear but to work with it. The most daring forms of courage don’t necessarily require marching slogans on streets, giving fiery speeches or slamming the door on your parent’s face. Courage can be often seen in a woman who mops for a living but is not ashamed of it. It can be seen in teachers who have the balls to teach a course that is deleted, because they have every right to impart knowledge. It is seen in a child who doesn’t hesitate to ask for a chair in a house that his mother works as a maid in. Finch was right and so were Calpurnia, Plato, Martin Luther King and Mia. Courage is many things but the opposite of fear.