The term "risk taker" is often used to refer to those who take economic risks in an attempt to gain wealth. In this context acceptance of risk is viewed as a virtue or sign of fortitude and strength of character. In many other contexts the idea of riskiness is viewed in a decidedly negative way. Instead of a being a virtue, the acceptance of risk is then labeled as foolish or even criminally irresponsible.
The need for risk management has become a key focus of many business organizations in our day. Inherent in the very idea that they must manage risk is the admission that risk is virtually unavoidable. There is no possibility of doing business in a risk free environment, so businesses have developed entire systems and organizations to help them deal with this basic element of the business world.
If one thinks very deeply about life in general you come to realize that there is no risk free living. How we individually deal with and manage personal risk is an essential life skill. Managing risk must start with an assessment of the degree of risk and the the possible negative consequences. Both aspects of a particular risk logically determine the extent of the effort one should expend in lessening that risk. A further factor in making risk management decisions is the probability of a specific risk mitigating step being successful and the associated costs of those steps as compared with the possible damage from that risk.
As we make personal decisions about the riskiness of life, we can operate on a wide spectrum. Some who are more risk tolerant can be downright foolhardy in the minds of most. Others can become so paranoid at the thought of life's uncertainties, that they fail to function normally or sanely as viewed by others.
It occurs to me that there is an inverse relationship between our personal risk tolerance and the extent to which we actually embrace democratic principles like personal freedom and equality. In order to claim personal liberty as my divine right I must be willing to grant that same right to others and accept the possibility that they may use their liberty in ways I dislike. If one is not inclined to accept the riskiness of personal liberties, then one is ill suited to a democratic society. There is no meaningful freedom which leaves me free and constrains only those I view negatively.