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Marino discusses cowardice on Connecticut public radio program

MarinoGordon300x350“While we’re not going to be on the Titanic or in the Civil War, we’re all going to be in situations where our ship is going under and the question is: Can you transcend that? Can you still be a loving person when you’re going under?” St. Olaf College Professor of Philosophy Gordon Marino asks in a Connecticut Public Radio discussion about cowardice.

Accompanying him on WNPR’s The Colin McEnroe Show were Chris Walsh, author of Cowardice: A Brief History, and Lesley Gordon, a professor of history at University of Akron.

While discussing what cowardice is, why it is rarely reported, and the role of gender in cowardice, the group used characters such as Star Trek’s Dr. “Bones” McCoy and The Iliad’s Hector to illustrate their points.

The discussion largely focused on cowardice in our everyday lives. Marino, who also serves as curator of the Howard and Edna Hong Kierkegaard Library at St. Olaf, chimed in with the Danish philosopher’s opinion of cowardice, reminding listeners that for Kierkegaard cowardliness took many different forms, including pride and the need to be included in a group.

Marino also spoke about how bravery is overcoming cowardice — but not necessarily in a life-threatening situation such as war or a natural disaster.

Making reference to Peter’s denial of Christ, Marino emphasized that when we give in to fear and fall short, it takes courage to repent and resolve to do better next time. “It’s cowardly to give up on yourself,” Marino tells listeners. “The brave thing is to say, ‘I reacted that way and now I’m going to change.’”

Marino also noted that part of the reason he has been training boxers for more than 30 years is that the boxing gym provides a much-needed workshop in learning how to cope with fear.

“There’s a big cut off between the people who can take a punch… and be disoriented, but continue to soldier on and those who just melt down when that happens. It’s a huge issue in getting to the elite level in boxing,” says Marino.

Marino regularly contributes to publications like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and the Atlantic Monthly.