Christian · Thought

Courage vs. Recklessness

Two men stand on a dock stretching out over an ocean, roiling with turbulent waves and violent undercurrents. The first man watches the storm without fear, careless of its dangers, and does not consider consequences as he dives into the water. The second man sees the first struggling, drowning in the dangerous ocean, pulling him under. He considers what may happen, the outcome of his choices and rationalizes his fear to brave the storm as he, too, dives in. Courage and recklessness have often been mistaken as partners in crime, qualities that go together. It is true that both courage and recklessness involve taking risks and fear is a prime aspect, but whereas recklessness is dangerous and harmful, courage is admirable and true.

Recklessness is an abandonment of care and fear. The first man was reckless. He was thoughtless as he plunged himself into the threatening waters, resulting in what could have been his own downfall. Recklessness is described as a careless action taken without consideration of consequence. It does not think, rather hastily propels forward into damaging risks, such as criminal acts or harmful actions. People who are reckless are unheeding to warnings such as speed limits or caution signs. Instead, they leap before looking, and find themselves in unwarranted situations that could have been prevented by taking notice of what their actions could result. Recklessness is dangerous to organized society and should not be compared to bravery or acts of boldness in the name of good.

Courage is strength in the face of fear or danger. Margaret Truman, an American singer, once said, “Courage is rarely foolish or reckless… courage usually involves a highly realistic estimate of the odds that must be faced.” The second man on the dock calculated the risks involved with saving the fellow man, drowning from his impetuous action. In that moment, courage overtook him as he jumped into the harrowing ocean. Courage guides people to take risks, but they are risks taken with the outcome in mind. Courage can be compared to heroism and gallantry, but it does not lack trepidation. Fear is a critical portion of courage, as it must be overcome and transformed into the motivating force, a drive, to complete the action considered. The second man was fearful of the storming ocean, but he abandoned that fear in order to create the outcome he envisioned, of saving the first man’s life. He persevered in the face of adversity. Courage is a  risk taken with all odds and apprehension accounted for before diving in.

In conclusion, recklessness is impulsive. Courage is intuitive. Recklessness is rash and thoughtless, and courage is careful and considerate. These attributes are not to be confused, as they are vastly different, yet are usually seen as going hand in hand. However, the fear and the odds of a circumstance are the defining factors differentiating recklessness from courage. Recklessness is not afraid and does not care about the result of its actions, whereas courage is the more respectable quality, for it estimates the outcomes, overcomes the fear, and saves the foolish man from his own demise.

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