Sunday, October 04, 2009


When I was a youngster, along with my friends, I used the word ‘windy’ in an adjectival sense to describe someone who was afraid to do something that might be dangerous. The word can actually be used to describe a ‘nervous’ or ‘anxious’ person, but there is also a cowardly connotation to it. ‘Chicken’ is used in a similar way. Kids sometimes play the stupid and dangerous game of ‘Chicken’ which entails running across railway lines at the latest possible moment before oncoming trains or darting across busy roads. The colour ‘yellow’ has associations with cowardliness; consequently a ‘yellow’ person is a coward. A ‘white feather’ is a derisory symbol given to one who is believed to be a coward.+ The horrendous act of ‘Tarring and Feathering’ which entails pouring hot tar on a victim before applying white feathers may have connections with cowardliness. There was a tarring and feathering incident in Southern Belfast in August, 2007.*

None of us likes to think we are cowards, but if we are put to the test would we make the grade? Brave men and women in Afghanistan face the test every day. Jesus when He was in Gethsemane did not bottle out. (Matthew 26:36-46) He knew what lay ahead. (Matthew 27:35)

* 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers were executed in WW1 for cowardice. (Snippet) More than 300 British soldiers who were shot during World War I for military offences are to receive formal pardons, Defence Secretary Des Browne has announced. (August 2006) Mr Browne said he would be seeking a parliamentary group pardon for the men, executed for offences such as cowardice and desertion. It is believed 306 British soldiers were shot during the war from 1914-1918. + The Four Feathers novel by A E W Mason has the theme of cowardliness and bravery.

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