If an act is performed that has no thought behind, it loses its value. In the words of orator and lawyer Robert Green Ingersoll, "Courage without conscience is a wild beast." One should give some thought to an action before acting upon it. Without thought, or "conscience", the action can be untimely and uncontrolled as would a "wild beast." In 1999, two young men went on a shooting rampage at Columbine High School. This rash action, lacking conscience or concept of right and wrong, did not exhibit courage.
Rather, good intentions and motivations should fuel courageous actions. As British author Samuel Johnson states, "Bravery has no place where it can avail nothing." In other words, courage or bravery is worthless and unnecessary if the final outcome cannot be beneficial. For example, the terrorists involved with the September 11th tragedy were not considered to be courageous here in the United States. Their actions caused grief and sorrow. Nothing positive resulted from their actions, so the United States and her allies looked upon this as a cowardly action.
Courage is defined by the motivations and thoughts that exist within the action. If these do not exist, the value of courage is lost. As with the terrorists and the two young men at Columbine, their actions did indeed require nerve. However, they cannot be seen as courageous because of the lack of good motivation and value behind them. Even if one's courageous action does not turn out to be effective, others will know that the right intentions existed. For that, they will recognize true courage.
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Each of these concepts is important in itself, and every one of these virtues is an admirable quality, but when all of them blend together in one person, we discover the value, and power, of chivalry today. Modern-day knights should strive to keep these virtues alive in their own hearts, but, perhaps more importantly, they should work to bring these wonderful qualities out in the people they see every day — at home, in the office, at school or on the street corner. A person who lives by the code of chivalry in today’s world allows everyone to see their best qualities reflected in his or her shining armor.
Reviews were generally positive and a respectable amount of volumes were sold, but it did not become a bestseller until an edition was published in England. By 1896 the novel had gone through nine editions and Crane himself realized he was no longer "a black sheep but a star." A reviewer in the New York Press wrote "one should be forever slow in charging an author with genius, but it must be confessed that The Red Badge of Courage is open to the suspicion of having greater power and originality that can be girdled by the name of talent." Joseph Conrad, the famous author of Heart of Darkness (1899), wrote that Crane had written "a spontaneous piece of work which seems to spurt and flow like a tapped stream from the depths of the writer's being." Some critics, including the writer Ambrose Bierce, attacked the novel for, among other things, being too imaginative, depicting soldiers poorly, and lacking in a coherent plot and grammatical/syntactical purity.