College News

2022 and on… Always United & Always Serving

ST DUNSTAN'S COLLEGE

Trinity Term: Issue 2

A Message From The Rector

“Common sense is not so common” Voltaire

Do we mistake fearlessness for recklessness?

Last term we celebrated Mrs Burger’s 20-year service and, when I was reflecting on it in the evening, I suddenly realised that I am now the oldest person in the David Beetge Quad during assembly time.

It was quite a sobering thought and it led me to start thinking if my age gave me an advantage.
I decided that I had many more years of experience than the majority of you, but that in itself gave me no advantage at all.

Rather, it was or would have been how I chose to use those experiences that would give me the ability to be wiser or, sadly, if I chose to ignore any lessons I could have learnt, I would have been at no advantage at all.

I admire people who are ethical and wise and make brave decisions.

There is no question that being fearless is a positive attribute. Speaking out against injustices requires courage and, as we mentioned a few assemblies ago, we need more moral rebels – those who call out bullying, or those who hold themselves and others to account.

We often, however, use the statement “I was just speaking my mind”, without considering the other person’s point of view, sometimes causing damage to the person’s reputation, or it can poison an enriching culture. We often believe that stating our point of view is bold and needs to be done, but we do not necessarily consider the impact of our comments.

Sometimes though, the line between being fearless and reckless is a fine one, and often we find fearlessness intoxicating and addictive – we are praised for our viewpoint and we seek opportunities to inform others of our perspective.

But, this may result in being reckless, and the distinction between the two is difficult to establish.

A few ways to determine this: question who you are really serving. Are we feeding our own ego, are we moving away from our stated values or diminishing our own character, being shortsighted? Are we hurting or offending others with deliberate intent? These would be telling signs of being reckless.

One aspect of being reckless is selfishness, whilst being fearless depicts selflessness.

Being fearless requires a deliberate manner of assessing the effect of our actions. We will be more intentional, more aligned with our sense of purpose, and more conscious of the impact of our actions on others.

If I say what is on my mind, especially in an emotional time, I need to examine what effect it will have on the relationship I may have with the person I am interacting with.

Being conscious, concise and clear is a hallmark of fearlessness – a check if my words and actions will demean others and diminish my own character and values.

It is easy I guess to presume that we will be brave enough to do the right thing while being critical of others.

At the heart of all of this is the old-age conundrum known as ethics: the ability to know the difference between right and wrong and being prepared to choose the “right” even though it may cost you. This is the essence of heroism.

Experiences can be so enriching and lead to personal growth.

To quote from an address to graduates: “Please be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice”

God Bless!
Michael McConnachie