“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult” (Seneca).
BEFORE ANYTHING CAN BECOME EASY, WE MUST GET TO THE POINT WHERE WE CAN APPROACH IT WITH A BIT OF BOLDNESS. Without confidence — indeed, without daring — even the simplest things can daunt us. One of the definitions of “daring” given by the American Heritage Dictionary is “to be courageous or bold enough to do or try something.” Isn’t that a quality we want to have? Dare we not do the things we should do and want to do?
Daring is not inherently a virtue, of course. Unlike honesty, for example, which is good in and of itself, daring is only relatively good; that is, it’s only good when it’s applied to a good cause. John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, was daring, but we’d hardly commend him for that. So we need to be careful about the things we dare. Daring is desirable only when what we dare is good, and if we dare what is evil, we need not expect a good result. And not only that, we need to avoid rashly or impetuously daring things. There’s a world of difference between courage and foolhardiness. If we don’t dare wisely, we’re no more than a “daredevil,” one who is recklessly bold.
Henry Miller said, “Whatever there be of progress in life comes not through adaptation but through daring.” Can we not take that insight and use it to better our relationships? The thing we seek, in both our personal lives and our relationships, is progress, and if it takes courage to make progress, we owe it to those around us to demonstrate courage. We give our friends, our family, and our coworkers a great gift when we dare, for their sake, to do what we know is right and good. And conversely, when we take the easy way out and default on our duties, we inflict actual harm on those around us. In an interconnected world, we do deeds of great goodness when we dare to take the high road every time.
It’s a plain fact, life often comes to us as a challenge. And if we back away from it, we shrink our stature and constrict our character. The abundant life is not for wimps. It’s for the brave, and “fortune sides with him who dares” (Virgil). There is no safe middle ground.
“Not to dare is to dwindle” (John Updike).