Photo: Misan Harriman

This is Chris, a talented graphic artist. We all have our own challenges in life, and Chris felt it was essential to be in Hyde Park during the Black Lives Matter marches in London to support others who are struggling. He didn’t need a sign – his first in the air says it all. In the midst of a march, during a global pandemic he shows us the very best of who we can be.

There are many emotions swirling these days – in the midst of our health and economic crises we are also suffering an empathy recession. The strength that Chris demonstrates above can only be taught by example. But perhaps being brave is something we can learn. Dawood Gustave has set out to do just that.

This feels like a moment of truth. Now things feel different. Ordinarily we would have become paralysed by fear. We are programmed at such moments to adopt one of three responses.

The first is defensive: we deny our confusion, reinforce our certainty, stick ever more doggedly to what we know. We become fundamentalists.

A second response is even less rational and can become destructive: we throw up our hands in despair, we admit things are just too confusing and decide to remain lost. We eat drink and make merry – because we cannot face up to the reality of what we sense is going on in the world.

Dawood Gustave

There is another possible response to challenging times. We can acknowledge that we are confused and that times are hard. But we don’t tune confusion out or deny it. Instead we find the courage to face it head on and the determination to learn and grow our way through it. Learning means taking a wider view, and that can be scary, but it allowsus to reperceive the way things are.

Gustave’s Short Course in Bravery comprises four lessons:

Lesson 1: Survival

Rule one for survivors is ‘discard the hope of rescue’.

Lesson 2: Insight

Maintain the energy that fear generates but resist descending into panic. Manage anxiety, take a long hard look at the situation, recognize that you are off the map and generate the one thing that is going to help you survive – fresh insight.

Lesson 3: Perseverance

You can and will survive – even prosper – but if and only if, you are prepared emotionally, physically, intellectually and spiritually. The best way to survive a crisis is to help somebody else do the same

Lesson 4: Hope

Feed the soul with inspiration if we are to avoid the predictable future. Find individuals, organisations and stimulus that is more than a recycled version of the past.

For more detail on the course and the lessons, get in touch with the team at Reluctantly Brave. And if fresh stimulus is what you’re after, here is a playlist curated by Gustave to help you survive and thrive:


Pharcyde – Running

Eddie Kendricks – My People Hold On

Abbyssinians – Declaration of Rights

The Clash – Rock the Casbah

Public Enemy – Fight The Power

Marvin Gaye – Anger

Ebo Taylor – Love and Death

Leo Sunship – Gimme the Sunshine

LTJ Bukem – (I need you) Atlantis

Junior Byles – Fade Away

Daryl Hall and John Oates – I Can’t Go For That

James Brown – Mind Power

Stevie Wonder – As

Ce Ce Rogers – Some Day

Night Writers – Let the Music Use You

Roy Ayers – Everybody Loves The Sunshine

Ramp – Daylight

Wu Tang Clan – C.R.E.A.M


La Haine

The Patience Stone


Le Grand Voyage

Mad Max


Chariots of Fire

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Passport to Pimlico