"There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice." - Mark Twain
This turned up in my daily quotes this morning, and serves as a timely inspiration for this month's post. You see, my oldest son turns 6 tomorrow, and he has been utterly fearless since infancy. As an adult, his fearlessness will allow him, like his father, to be bold, to take life by the horns and turn it his way, but, right now, it often serves as a way to give his grandmother a near heart attack. (Mom, that is, I, am already pretty inured to his lack of fear.) A little caution, such as the very sensible amount his little brother displays, would definitely not go amiss at this stage! But each child is an individual, and I know that, like his father, his fearlessness is part of who my oldest is, just as my youngest's tendency for dramatics is irrevocably linked to his deeply passionate personality...and I know where that comes from quite intimately!
Human beings are still simple beasts at heart, and we would, as a rule, very much like a nice black and white world, where courage is always good and cowardice is always bad, but evolution is wiser than we are by far, and there is a reason all those so-called negative qualities keep hanging on, generation after generation. I think, when it comes to cowardice, good ol' Mr. Clemens hit the nail on the head. A little internal fear of negative consequences can go a long way towards preventing really stellar moments of stupidity.
Being too giving is just as bad for your average human as being too selfish, albeit in very different ways...but there's a place for those that can't help being one or the other, too. In the end, the social species that we are needs this diversity to be successful; there are moments when we need that hard hearted bastard and moments when we need that bleeding heart hippie; we balance each other out in the end and we're all the better for it.
There are a lot of damn stubborn people out there; but it's those of us with innate, intense levels of determination that can make it through the hardest times, that can survive in the face of insurmountable odds because we simply refuse to give up. We are complex organisms in ourselves, but as a species, we are a kind of giant complex organism; some of us are the heart, some the liver, some the white blood cells, some red, and so on. It is wise, as often as we can, to take the long view, to remember that sometimes a person serves as a dire warning to the rest of us, sometimes as an inspiration, and both and all have their place in a vast and complex universe.