When her disabled father is called into war by the emperor for the second time — a death sentence — Mulan watches him prepare for his departure. The Hua family symbol is a phoenix and, according to Mulan’s dad, while not protecting him from death, will tell their ancestors that he was “loyal, brave, and true.”
“I wish I was as brave as you,” Mulan says, but Zhou Hua only shakes his head: “There is no courage without fear.”
When she later sneaks into his dressing room to steal his sword and take his place, Mulan will remember these words. When her newfound soldier friends muse that they might not live past tomorrow, she will pass on her father’s wisdom. And when she must ultimately give up her disguise and reveal her true self to the world, she’ll still hear his voice.
If we see someone proceeding where, before, no one dared to tread, it can seem as if courage is the absence of fear, confident superiority, or even complete victory over it, but none of that is the case — for were there no fear left in the hero’s heart, their journey would require no bravery at all.
Where there is courage, there must also be fear. Not every instance of fear is met with courage, but even those that are are accompanied by heavy gulps and shaking hands.
When duty calls, don’t be afraid to be afraid. Remember there can be no courage without fear, and grip your sword as tightly as you need to in order to take the next step. You may not win every battle, but rest assured that, no matter what happens, we will be here, reminding everyone that you were loyal, brave, and true.