Stories of moral courage are stories that focus on the expression of bravery to enact interpersonal values or ethical standards in the face of challenge. Stories that focus on choosing to do the right thing have the potential to encourage action in situations that may otherwise lead to despair. The stories may provide an imaginal connection with those who have been challenged and who responded to challenge with active moral choice. This has been described in the psychological literature as a sense of elevation. We recognize the transformational potential of making the choice to help in a devastating situation when we hear about it. A volunteer with the Red Cross who helped directly after Hurricane Katrina described multiple courageous acts of helping in the aftermath of the storm, and in response to those stories he offered, “You want to be a part of that…to take a bad situation and turn it into something of value.”

Have you ever had an opportunity to stand up for something or someone because you believed it was the right thing to do? Did someone ever do that for you? Standing up for something or someone because that action is in keeping with your values can require bravery, but it can also generate a sense of being connected to others. Do you remember feeling connected to those you look up to, or those you love, when you expressed or experienced moral courage?

  • This story type is contributed by Adele Baruch and the Courage and Moral Choice Project at the University of Southern Maine, and is open to anyone who wants to contribute a story here.

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