What Would You Die For?

Is there anything or anyone you feel is worthy of that sort of sacrifice? Do you have a passion that you’d go that far for?

Recently rising young Rugby League star Sonny Fai was swimming at a New Zealand beach with family and friends. He was a fit, healthy, strong young man and an able swimmer. A young boy in the group was being swept out to sea and Sonny swam out to save him. The boy survived but sadly Sonny did not.

This was a high profile event in New Zealand because Sonny is well known and also because we are a relatively small country. But there are many people who have died under similar circumstances all over the world.

Would you have done the same thing? If you are a parent presumably you’d die for your child, but what about someone else’s? Would you die for a stranger? What about an animal? A cause? Your country? Your values? Your spiritual beliefs?

If you like knitting then it would be hard to feel strongly enough about knitting to die for it. If you’re an anti-whaling protester on board a protest ship out in the middle of the ocean when a whaling ship is getting ready to fire a harpoon at a whale then perhaps you would?

What makes a hero?

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr

Heroism has no prerequisites in terms of education, ethnicity or socio-economic status. A hero is the right person in the right place at the right time. Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who landed the plane in New York’s Hudson river after it hit some geese recently, was such a person. He lived to tell the tale.

Others become heroes because of their actions over a longer period of time. Mahatma Gandhi worked hard for many, many years to help the people of India achieve independence but was eventually assassinated.

Martin Luther King Jr was a great hero to many people. In his situation he was fighting against circumstances that affected him as much as they affected the people he was fighting for. But some people devote their lives to campaigning for things that do not directly affect them – such as for the planet, animals or the end of human rights abuses. They feel so strongly that they are compelled to act even though it is something that does not directly affect them.

Would you be responsive enough to act in an instant? Or have the strength to endure over a longer period of time? Or to fight for something that doesn’t affect you?

Heroism is a great thing and I find reading about great people like these incredibly inspiring (checkout CNN Heroes and Myhero.com). I like to think that I would act in a heroic fashion if the circumstances ever required it, but I suppose I just don’t know until it happens.

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