In the concluding chapter of Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy aims to identify commonalities among the men he profiled in the book. He agrees with President John Adams that people do not “‘love the public better than themselves,’” and so he seeks to understand how those two loves—of self and public—come together in acts of political courage.
One primary point that Kennedy makes is that we need not agree with the views or goals of an individual to admire their courage in following their chosen course of action. Rather, acknowledging that they took risks in deliberately facing obstacles is a solid basis for earning our respect for their bravery. His view is that both an “unyielding devotion to absolute principle,” and the willingness to compromise, conciliate, or cooperate are of equal quality but different caliber in terms of courage.