Risks and Consequences

Is it going to rain or not?

When we really start to think about “risk” in everyday context, somehow life becomes intimidating and overwhelming. It’s the thing that stays with us 24/7, no matter we are awake or asleep, and it’s always there. When walk on the street, there is the risk of getting involved into a car accident; when eat in a restaurant, there is the risk of food poisoning; even when stay at home, there is the risk of being killed by a missile: life has never been 100% safe, how can we still manage to living normally without panic? But people just do.

The distance between “risk” and “consequence” might be the reason that we haven not been driven mad yet. Sometimes the risks are deliberately ignored because it won’t hurt much; such as the decision not to carry an umbrella even though the morning weather forecast says possibly it’s going to rain in the evening. Considering the heavy luggage and the sky seems quite clear when we get out, let alone how unreliable the weather forecast can be, we decide to take a chance. Anyway, the worst is to be caught in a rain, and how bad can that be? And sometimes there is a blind trust towards ourselves, that we can definitely be fast enough to cross the road when not following the traffic light.

When use the word “consequence” however, is different. It’s usually something people are scared of. If I eat too much for dinner, the consequence is that I will gain weight; if I don’t finish the reading assignment today, the consequence is that I’m going to have problem following the lecture tomorrow. Thinking in this way makes us feel the pressure and necessity to take certain action, which we need to prevent things from going that way. In this sense, it works as a motivation.

But when think more carefully, one will realize that actually there is no guarantee this “consequence” will take place for sure; the “consequence” is nothing but also a risk. However, it sounds way more serious and heavier than “risk”. The moment we choose the word “risk”, we already lower the chance that it may happen in our mind automatically. The unlikeliness is what we tend to focus on, not the risk itself; even sometimes it’s fatal. Convincing ourselves is never too difficult: “it’s not going to rain”, “there won’t be any car at this moment”, that the unlucky one is not going to be us. We have already drawn the line between “risk” and “consequence”, that “risk” is more of what we consider will not happen and “consequence” is something that will.

Maybe risk prevention is always hard, so we are hoping for a better reason to actually get started, since it may require a lot of awareness, time, and sometimes even a brand new daily routine, a totally different personality. To me personally, instead of “risk”, is the “consequence” that can serve as the ultimate motivation: the fear and scare of a certain out-coming. So perhaps the reason why one doesn’t take any action is simple: just because this “risk” is not enough to become the “consequence”, yet.

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