In a recent conversation with my hubby, as always The Master comes through with words of wisdom that pour from my mouth and I am left to ponder them for sometime afterwards. These pearls of wisdom are usually accompanied by clues from outside sources and this was no exception.
I was talking to Jon about being brave. Brave enough to go forward even though we have no idea what is ahead or how we could possibly achieve what we want to. Or even if we are capable of doing it.
The Master said, "Bravery is something we recognise in retrospect. It is not something that we decide we are going to be. We honour a hero for bravery after the fact because they did not accomplish their act of bravery deciding they were going to be brave, they just did what they felt they had to do at the time."
I have been pondering this with great interest. Having recently watched the story of the two men who escaped the Pike River Mine after the explosion in what can only be described as miraculous, Daniel Rockhouse, performed a feat which was nearly impossible, putting his own life in danger, dragged not only himself, but his colleague Russell Smith to safety. The interviewer called him a hero and he humbly replied to the label by saying, that it was what he had to do. He couldn't have done anything else.
We saw the same acts of 'bravery' recently during the earthquake here in Canterbury. Strangers going to the aid of strangers with no thought for themselves. Acting with some deep sense of purpose to aid another who was is peril.
I had a conversation recently with a colleague about what we do when faced with danger. He had been in special forces with the military and the police. He talked about how we react in the face of danger. "We do one of three things" he said. "We either run towards it which is what Police, Fire, Ambulance, Military trained personnel do. We freeze and become immobile or we run."
I thought about this in relation to myself. When I was a child my home was rampant with domestic violence. My reaction to seeing or hearing my father attacking my family members either verbally or physically, was to run into the middle of it and try to break it up. I never once thought about my own safety, I just wanted it to stop and that was the only way I knew to make it happen. Sometimes I succeeded and other times I didn't.
From that early training I would then run towards anyone I saw fighting, be it an argument in the playground or a fist fight. Especially a fist fight. It spilled over into my teenage years and adult life too. If I was out at a party, club or even driving down the street day or night, if there was violence taking place I would stop and run towards it to break it up.
Not always the smartest thing to do but I know that even today faced with that situation I would do the same thing.
So as I join all of the dots of wisdom together I have come to better understand what The Master was talking about - it's about our willingness to act without fear.
To act with the intent to make a difference. To come to aid of others who are in need or peril. To be brave enough to put everything aside and do what has to be done even if that means we might lose our lives.
The Master says that we value our lives of course but what we value more is love and compassion, fairness and justice. Because without these, we really are dead anyway.