爱思英语编者按:勇气是人类文明亘古不变的主题,但是对勇气的系统性研究却是最近才开始的。什么是勇气?勇气从何而来?它在身体和大脑中是如何体现的?为何我们会对它如此之挚爱?没有恐惧感是不是件好事情呢?本文将一一予以解答。

Searching for the Source of a Fountain of Courage
寻找勇气之源

In his 20 years as a firefighter and paramedic in Colorado Springs, Bruce Monson, 43, has had his little fist-bumps with death: a burning roof collapsing on top of him, toxic fumes nearly suffocating him.
在其作为科罗拉多斯普林斯(Colorado Springs)市消防员和急救人员的20年生涯里,43岁的布鲁斯·蒙逊(Bruce Monson)跟死神有过小小的亲密接触:一座燃烧的屋顶从他头顶坍塌,有毒气体几乎令其窒息。

Yet far more terrifying than any personal threats are what Mr. Monson describes as the "bad kid calls," like the one from a mother who had put her 18-month-old son down in his crib right next to a window with a Venetian blind and its old-fashioned cord.
但是比所有的个人威胁都要恐怖得多的,是被蒙逊先生描述为"捣蛋鬼电话"的,就像是一位妈妈打过来的电话一样,这位母亲把自己18个月大的孩子放到了婴儿床上,而婴儿床则正好靠近一个带有软百叶窗和老式绳索的窗户。

"The kid had grabbed the cord and gotten it twisted around his neck, and the mother came in and found him hanging there," said Mr. Monson. "I'm the first one in the door, she's in a panic, and she shoves the kid into my arms, crying, 'Please save him, please save him!' "
"小孩抓住了那条绳子,然后被绳子绕住了自己的脖子,接着母亲进来就发现他悬在那里了",蒙逊先生说:"我是第一个上门的,她还在恐慌之中,一把就将孩子塞到我手臂里,哭着说,'请救救他,快救救他!'"。

The child's body was blue, but Mr. Monson and his fellows met parental despair with professional focus and did everything they could. "We worked on him for over an hour," said Mr. Monson. "It's like a state of calm. You're so tuned in to what you're doing, you're not thinking about the reality of the situation."
孩子的身体都已经发紫了,但蒙逊先生和同伴的职业素养遭遇了父母的绝望眼神,他们竭尽所能。"我们在孩子身上努力了一个多钟头",蒙逊先生说:"那就好像是进入了一种入定的状态。你对自己的正在做的事情是如此的全神贯注,以至于到了弃现实情况于不顾的地步"。

Their best was not enough, however, and later, at the hospital, the terrible sadness settled in.
然而,尽其所能仍回天乏力,随后在医院里传来了噩耗。

As Mr. Monson filled out his report, the mother sat in the trauma room's designated "bereavement rocking chair," rocking her dead son, saying her goodbyes, while family members filed in and wailed at the sight.
正如蒙逊在报告中所写的那样,那位母亲坐在创伤室指定的"丧亲摇摇椅"上,不断摇晃着她死去的孩子,喃喃着自己的告别,此情此景,一旁的家庭成员也哀嚎不已。http://www.24en.com爱思英语网

An image of that mother in her rocking chair comes to Mr. Monson's mind every time he answers another "bad kid" call, spurring him to keep going, to never give up or grow sloppy or cynical, to simply do his job; and through doing his job, he has saved far more lives than he has lost.
每次接到一个又一个的"捣蛋鬼"电话时,蒙逊先生的脑海总会浮现出那位母亲坐在摇摇椅上的景象,激励着他不断前进,永不放弃,永远都不能麻痹大意或者是愤世嫉俗,只想着做好自己的工作;通过他的努力,他所救活的生命远远超过了失去的。

Only once did he allow the furniture connection to spook him — when his own wife was at the same hospital having emergency surgery for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, and his young daughter happened to climb onto the bereavement seat. "I knew it was a totally irrational thing to do," he said, "but I made her get out of that chair."
这种联想只有一次让他被吓到了—— 当他自己的妻子因为宫外孕破裂在同一家医院接受急救手术的时候,他年轻的女儿恰巧爬上了那张丧亲之椅。"我知道,这完全是一件荒谬的事情",他说:"但是我把她从椅子上弄下来了"。

Courage is something that we want for ourselves in gluttonous portions and adore in others without qualification. Yet for all the longstanding centrality of courage to any standard narrative of human greatness, only lately have researchers begun to study it systematically, to try to define what it is and is not, where it comes from, how it manifests itself in the body and brain, who we might share it with among nonhuman animals, and why we love it so much.
勇气是某种我们希望自己富有并无保留地仰慕别人拥有的东西。在人类文明的任何标准记叙当中,勇气的中心地位一直是屹立不倒的,尽管如此,但是研究者也只是最近才开始对它进行系统性的研究,试图去定义什么是勇气,什么不是勇气,勇气从何而来,它在身体和大脑中是如何体现的,在非人类的动物里面我们会跟谁分享勇气,以及为何我们会对它如此之挚爱。http://www.24en.com爱思英语网

A new report in the journal Current Biology describes the case of a woman whose rare congenital syndrome has left her completely, outrageously fearless, raising the question of whether it's better to conquer one's fears, or to never feel them in the first place.
《现代生物学》杂志的一份新报告描述了一个案例,一位患有罕见的先天性综合症的女人,在全然无所畏惧的情况下彻底痊愈,报告向我们提出了一个问题,是否说克服恐惧,或者永远不把恐惧摆在首位是不是会更好?http://www.24en.com爱思英语网

In another recent study, neuroscientists scanned the brains of subjects as they struggled successfully to overcome their terror of snakes, identifying regions of the brain that may be key to our everyday heroics.
在另一份最新研究中,神经系统科学家扫描了成功克服了对蛇的恐惧感的研究对象的大脑,确定了有可能是我们平常英雄事迹的关键的大脑区域。

Researchers in the Netherlands are exploring courage among children, to see when the urge for courage first arises, and what children mean when they call themselves brave.
荷兰的研究者正在探索儿童的勇气之源,试图找出什么时候会催生出勇气来,以及孩子们自称勇敢时其意思是什么。

The theme of courage claims a long and gilded ancestry. Plato included courage among the four cardinal or principal virtues, along with wisdom, justice and moderation.
勇气这个主题有着久远而辉煌的历史。柏拉图把勇气与智慧、正义及节制一起,列为四种体液或称之为四美德。

"As a major virtue, courage helps to define the excellent person and is no mere optional trait," writes George Kateb, a political theorist and emeritus professor at Princeton University. "One of the worst reproaches in the world is to be called a coward."
"作为一项主要美德,勇气帮助我们定义优秀之人,它不是可有可无的选项",普林斯顿大学的政治理论家和名誉教授乔治·卡泰(George Kateb)说:"这个世界上最糟糕的指责之一就是被称为懦夫"。http://www.24en.com爱思英语网