How to overcome fear and right wrongs.
In the first of four proposed volumes on the cardinal virtues of temperance, justice, wisdom, and courage, Holiday, author of books on egotism, Stoicism, and falsehoods spewed by the blogosphere, among many other topics, offers uplifting thoughts, examples, and anecdotes meant to motivate readers to act courageously. He wants his readers to take risks, challenge the status quo, “run toward while others run away,” and “do a thing that people say is impossible.” As in previous books, the author mines ancient Greek philosophers, statesmen, and military leaders for their thoughts on fear, cowardice, boldness, and heroism. Among myriad individuals Holiday cites as courageous are Florence Nightingale, Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Frederick Douglass, Charles de Gaulle, Winston Churchill, John Lewis, and Peter Thiel, whose successful attack on the gossip site Gawker is one that Holiday finds admirable. Thiel, incensed because Gawker outed him as a gay man, “found agency where others saw nothing but impossibility.” Holiday claims that fear—of what others might think of us, of the unknown consequences of our actions—is the enemy of courage. “When fear is defined,” he asserts, “it can be defeated. When downside is articulated, it can be weighed against upside.” Holiday’s tone evokes the voice of a sage, imparting pithy remarks that sometimes border on the hackneyed: “One man with courage can make a majority”; “Grace under pressure is also expressed as cool under pressure for a reason.” He exhorts readers to develop courage to care about others more than about their own needs and acknowledges that sometimes physical courage—even violence—is required in the face of injustice. He recounts a personal test of courage when he worked as a marketing director at American Apparel, whose volatile, destructive CEO should have been removed from power. Holiday’s courage failed him, he admits regretfully, when he did not stand up to his boss.
An earnest call to act bravely.