Read CROWDS AND HEROES - CHAPTER XI of Crowds A Moving-Picture of Democracy, free online book, by Gerald Stanley Lee, on


I have never known a coward.

I have known men who did cowardly things and who were capable of cowardly thoughts, but I have never known a man who could be fairly and finally classified as a coward.

Courage is a process.

If people are cowards it is because they are in a hurry.

They have not taken the pains to see what they think.

The man who has taken the time to think down through to what he really wants and to what he is bound to get, is always (and sometimes very suddenly and unexpectedly) a courageous man.

It is the man who is half wondering whether he really wants what he thinks he wants or not, or whether he can get it or not, who is a coward.

The coward is a half man.  He is slovenly minded about himself.  He gets out of the hard work of seeing through himself, of driving on through what he supposes he wants, to what he knows he wants.

So, after all, it is a long, slow, patient pull, being a courageous man.  Few men have the nerve to take the time to attend to it.

The first part of courage consists in all this hard work one has to put in on one’s soul day after day, and over and over again, doggedly, going back to it. What is it that I really want?

The second, or more brilliant-looking part of courage, the courageous act itself (like Roosevelt’s when he is shot), which everybody notices, is easy.  The real courage is over then.

Courage consists in seeing so clearly something that one wants to get that one is more afraid of not getting it than one is of anything that can get in the way.

The first thing that society is ever able to do with the lowest type of labouring man seems to be to get him to want something.  It has to think out ways of getting him waked up, of getting him to be decently selfish, and to want something for himself.  He only wants a little at first; he wants something for himself to-day and he has courage for to-day.  Then perhaps he wants something for himself for to-morrow, or next week, or next year, and he has courage for next week, or for next year.  Then he wants something for his family, or for his wife, and he has courage for his family, or for his wife.

Gradually he sees further and wants something for his class.  His courage mounts up by leaps and bounds when he is liberated into his class.  Then he discovers the implacable mutual interest of his class with the other classes, and he thinks of things he wants for all the classes.  He thinks the classes together into a world, and becomes a man.  He has courage for the world.

When men see, whether they are rich or poor, what they want, what they believe they can get, they are not afraid.

The next great work of the best employers is to get labour to want enough.  Labour is tired and mechanical-minded.  The next work of the better class of labourer, or the stronger kind of Trades Union, is to get capital to want enough.  Capital is tired, too.  It does not see really big, worth-while things that can be done with capital, and has no courage for these things.

The larger the range and the larger the variety of social desire the greater the courage.

The problem in modern industry is the arousing of the imaginations of capitalists and labourers so that they see something that gives them courage for themselves and for one another, and courage for the world.

The world belongs to the men of vision-the men who are not afraid-the men who see things that they have made up their minds to get.

Who are the men to-day, in all walks of life, who want the most things for the most people, and who have made up their minds to get them?

There is just one man we will follow to-day-those of us who belong to the crowd-the man who is alive all over, who is deeply and gloriously covetous, the man who sees things he wants for himself, and who therefore has courage for himself, and who sees things he wants and is bound to get for other people, and who therefore has courage for other people.

This is the hardest kind of courage to have-courage for other people.