Civil Courage, a Factor of Social Progress

2009 Revista Română de Sociologie  
This commentary is focused on a book coauthored and coordinated by Svetlana Broz (Having What It Takes. Essays on Civil Courage, edited by Thomas Butler, translated into English by Senada Kreso, Gariwo, Sarajevo, 2006, series "The Questions of All Questions"), president of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Branch of the International Gariwo with its headquarters in Milan. This organization aims at the discovery, recognition and reaffirmation of the Righteous worldwide, those individuals who had enough
more » ... uals who had enough civil courage to risk their own lives helping unjustly persecuted people. The majority of the essays in the book extract their value out of the authors' life experiences during the war of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995). In order to enlarge the field of the debate, the editors also included essays by English, Israeli and Palestinian authors dealing with the same issues manifested in other spaces. All of them try to demonstrate that civil courage is very different from military courage. It is the courage of the nonconformist, the rebel,and risks - or even courts - social disapproval, persecution, punishment, even martyrdom. At the everyday level it is the courage of the self-conscious dissident proclaiming his/her opposition to the values of his/her dominant reference group. Basically, it stands for the struggle of the individual against all forms of social systems directed against man. The authors show that individual examples of civil courage are possible in any period of time. However, it can only be cherished in democracies with strong elements of civil society as it can arise only from the free responsibility of free human beings.
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