In the real sense bravery is a lot more complicated than this simple explanation. For one, bravery would not so much be fearlessness, than the “mastery of fear”, or a disciplined dealing with that fear. I doubt there would be any man or woman who would not feel fear in a dangerous situation. These are different types of situations. Those of immediate and sudden danger (like coming face to face with a large cobra) where it’s mostly a rush of adrenaline that prompts a reaction, than a thought-out counter attack. And those of prolonged danger like wars and battles. In the first case, one doesn’t necessarily have been of great courage to protect oneself. But in the second, the imminent danger grows upon you. It would require great resolution and strong spirit to continue, and jump into the line of fire knowing very well the risks of the undertaking.
Bravery has been described by the psycho analyst Schleps as “a disposition to voluntarily act, perhaps fearfully, in a dangerous circumstance, where there are considerable risks, in an effort to obtain some perceived good to oneself or a community, knowing that the desired good may not be realized.”
This definition brings forward many interesting angles:
A) The action must be voluntary, not coerced.
B) Bravery must involved judgment, a full understanding and acceptance of risk and consequences.
C) Bravery requires a presence of danger, risk, potential injury, loss. With out a sense of these, there is no bravery in the act.
D) Bravery is more a mastery of fear, than fearlessness.
I think it’s an insult to call a man “fearless”. Its equivalent to being called “brainless”. People distinguish between courageous and foolhardy action. Thoughtful courage is a quality practiced by very few, while “rashness and boldness”, fearlessness without forethought is very common. Let’s just say there is a thin line between courage and foolishness. It is prudence which provides the wisdom to assess a potential danger and worthy of bravery or not. Action towards a worthy end would be considered more courageous than simply a risky action. For example, trying to take on a gang of rogues all alone, without back-up, and getting your bones broken, over an ego-issue would be foolhardy. Better pick your battles and be called a coward. The sign of a truly brave soldier is to fight the right wars, and walk away from worthless squabbles.
Actually fear and bravery complete each other…there is none without the other. Fear has to be overcome to be brave. Conquering fear of bodily injury or physical pain is the most classic form of bravery, as bravery in a battlefield....…Bravery is usually considered doing what is right; therefore it takes a moral tone. We would be reluctant to consider a murderer a brave person, though he might have taken great risks to commit his crime.
Endurance, a form of moral bravery, entailing a patient suffering over a long period of time can be described as the primary form of bravery. Moral bravery compels a person to do what he/she thinks is right, despite fear of social economic consequences.
People in small units or strong social groups who witness each others' valorous action may feel inspired to act courageously themselves, as in an army platoon. The cohesive unit further supports bravery. Those engaged in dangerous tasks like bomb-disposal squads are usually a very well-adjusted group among themselves. So are sects and tribes, like the Masai-tribe of Africa, known for their brave warriors.
It’s interesting to note how the concept of true bravery changes with years. People come to conceptualize bravery differently as they mature. Very young children perceive physical acts as braver than psychological ones. Adolescents have a more complex psychology, and understand social risks regarding various acts of bravery. Younger people are more prone to commit adventurous or thrilling acts of bravery, while older people are more likely to engage in moral acts of bravery.