Bravery

I’m brave. I always have been. I’m supposed to be brave. It’s what I was brought up to be, and it’s part of the job. People expect it of me. In fact, they expect it so much that I frighten them. I don’t even have to be brave to frighten them – they just assume that I am, and they are frightened. One look at me and that is it. Even the mention of me is enough. That means that I have a reasonably easy life, because I don’t actually have to do anything. I can be fast asleep and do my job at the same time! In fact, that is when I can be at my most effective, because when people see me asleep, they know that sooner or later I am going to waken up! I have had quite a bit of fun with that, pretending I am asleep, and just peeking at them through the corner of my eye, occasionally turning over and making the odd noise. It’s amazing how hard they try not to make a sound. You can sometimes hear them actually stop breathing!

Everybody is brave to a certain extent. Bravery is really an extension of knowledge, I suppose. If you know something cannot harm you, you are not worried about it, not frightened of it. To some one who doesn’t have that knowledge, you seem brave. I know that there is very little that can harm me, and I am therefore frightened of very little. And that makes me brave about a lot of things. See? It’s simple! And since everyone who comes here is always frightened of me, it makes it even easier to be brave!

That is the way it should be, but that night changed my whole outlook. A man came into my room, and he wasn’t frightened. I have seen it before, of course. An initial act of brave defiance, but it soon goes when I stand up and look at them as coldly as I can. Some it takes longer, but they all tremble in the end. Not this one, though, he had a bit of an edge that I have never seen before, a rather irritating righteousness. I looked at him, giving him one of my best cold stares (I practice a lot, you know). What did he do? Knelt down. Yes, he knelt down! I thought, “Right, matey, I’m going to have you for dinner!”

He brought his hands together and closed his eyes. Closed them! Had I been him I would have kept them open. I would have wanted to know exactly where I was, if you get my meaning. Then he spoke very quietly. I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but I don’t think he was speaking to me. I looked around at my mates. They were all just as astonished as I was. We surrounded him. He must have known we were there, but there was no reaction. He just kept speaking quietly. This was getting embarrassing. What would people think?

“Right, pal,” I roared at him, “get scared or I am going to tear you apart!”

Nothing.

“Well, get scared because I am going to tear you apart!”

Nothing.

This was terrible. I’ve got my pride, you know! I looked at him.

Still nothing.

That was it! I’d had enough. I walked towards him. Right up close. He knew I was there! “I’ll bite his head off,” I said to my mates.

Even more nothing!

I don’t know what had happened, but I know what didn’t happen. Biting his head off didn’t happen! I couldn’t. When I got right down to it, I couldn’t. This had to be my worst ever day. I moved back and shook my head. My mates took this correctly as their signal to take over, and moved in on him.

I have never seen so much nothing!

We all moved back against the wall. He just stayed where he was. Then he opened his eyes, looked at us, and smiled. Smiled, as if he didn’t have a care in the world, as if he were somewhere else! Then he lay down and went to sleep! This really got me mad, and I ran at him, ready to tear him limb from limb. But I couldn’t. It was the same with all of us – we couldn’t even make a noise, as if we’d had our jaws wired up. He slept, and we failed to even make his eyes blink. In the end we gave up.

head of a lionThe next day came, and we were badly shaken. Our confidence was at a low ebb, and bravery was a thing of the past. Then we heard a voice outside, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue from the lions?”

The man sprang to his feet. “My God sent this angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight.”

My mates and I looked at each other, full of relief! Now we knew what had happened! And shortly after that they gave us a huge meal to celebrate. So now I have my bravery back. And my pride!

Based on Daniel 6