How Cheap Physical Courage

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About Liam Day

Liam Day has been a youth worker, teacher, campaign manager, political pundit, communications director, and professional basketball player. His poems have appeared at Slow Trains Apt, and Wilderness House Literary Review. His op-eds and essays have appeared in Annalemma Stymie, the Boston Globe and Boston Herald. He lives in Boston, where he works as a public health professional. He is the Sports Editor at The Good Men Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @LiamDay7.


  1. It would have taken an equal amount of moral courage on the part of any member of the New Orleans Saints to stand up and tell his coaches that paying them to injure opponents is wrong. 53 members of the Saints display the former 16 Sundays every year. None of them displayed the latter. I can only conclude from this discrepancy that, of the two types of courage, the physical is by far the cheaper.

    In that particular situation I’d agree.

    Just so I’m clear you are not trying to say this is the case all across the board are you?

    • Danny,

      Though I was referring very specifically to this instance, I would, in fact, argue that, across board, moral courage is a much rarer thing than physical courage.


      • Liam,
        Ive been thinking about moral courage and physical courage since Bill and I posted comments on Josh’s thread a few days ago. I agree with you, as I had the same thought that moral courage is rarer, the implicit social pressure to conform to a group is extremely strong. Few can breech it

  2. “of the two types of courage, the physical is by far the cheaper.”
    The only formal religious training I ever had was with the Quakers—
    I’ve long held that I lack the courage to be a pacifist……

  3. In quite a few disasters there has been commandlevel paralysis, as those in charge did not have the courage to circuit-break the chain-of-command and take the necessary action. For those applying for command positions, and especially for more senior roles, ive always felt there should be tests* of the applicant’s moral courage, their ability to disregard established convention, group censure, their discomfort and embarrassment.

    1, doing standup comedy infront of a large crowd(if they havent done standup before).
    2, or for the male applicatants, in a noneparodic manner to wear women’s clothing in public(very hard for most men to do)

    100yrs from now, as part of the selection process i would expect to leaders of countries to undo go tests of moral and possibly physical courage, perhaps even publically


  1. [...] loosely) of the athlete who pounds his chest after a hard foul or an illegal hit. As I’ve discussed before on The Good Men Project, physical courage is much easier than moral courage. It’s easy to [...]

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