Acts of courage should be encouraged
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. ~ Mark Twain
When I was a teenager I recall several instances where I stood up for other kids in school who were targeted for not being popular, having come from a lower socio-economic family or just being socially awkward. I recall feeling compelled to help, and if I did not stand up for them then who would? I continued to have the courage to stand up for people who were reluctant or unable to stand up for themselves, and after high school I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Serving in the Unites States Marines, I was a part of the military that defends other countries that are reluctant or unable to stand up for themselves.
After serving in the military, I continued on to college and later began serving my community as a police officer. Serving the community as a police officer for the past 15 years, I have learned a great deal about courage. I believe some people are born courageous and others have learned how to be courageous through life experiences. Courage is doing what needs to be done for the greater good, even when most of the time it is more difficult or even dangerous.
It is a common belief that police only give speeding tickets or sit around drinking coffee. Most people are unaware how often law enforcement personnel put themselves in harm's way to keep the community safe. Police need to have enough courage to rush to calls of weapon-wielding, crazed lunatics who are threatening themselves or others. We understand we may end up being hurt or killed but have to overcome our fear because it is the right thing to do for the community as a whole.
During police and military basic training, trainees are schooled in courage. We are taught how to defend ourselves, to adapt and overcome situations and to learn basic hand-to-hand combat. These skills help us build confidence, which leads to courageous responses. It remains our job to run toward situations which could create harm to others. This takes courage on a daily basis.
I encourage our youth and our leaders to have the courage to stand up for those who are reluctant or unable to stand up for themselves, especially those targeted by bullies, both young and old. Do not sit passively when you see someone being wronged or hurt. Have the courage to do something, anything, even if it is only reporting an incident to an adult or an authority figure that can help those who may not be able to help themselves.
Mike Thomas is a master police officer with the Liberty Lake Police Department, where he has worked for the past 10 years. He previously worked as a police officer in Idaho for the cities of Moscow and Kellogg. He graduated from Shadle Park High School in 1989.