This week saw many acts of courage – the response of people in Boston, the UK bus driver in the French Alps and the citizens of Swanton, Texas to name a few.
Although the circumstances of each tragedy are very different, in each case individuals went out of their way to help others, despite the very personal risks to themselves. While the emergency services displayed great heroism as well, I want to focus on the behaviour of those who weren’t trained to deal with such emergencies and had no reason to expect to ever find themselves in that situation, let alone when they woke up that morning.
In Boston, rather than running away from the first and then second explosion, competitors and spectators alike ran towards the bomb sites to help others. Tales of practical help, stemming blood loss, consoling survivors and the like flooded the airways. In the French Alps, the bus driver was the only person to lose his life after he alerted passengers to brake failure before driving into the side of the mountain in order to avoid plunging off the steep cliffs. While in Texas, following the massive explosion in a fertilizer factory, we heard further tales of citizens helping each other before emergency services could get to them.
Why do Human’s often (but not always) respond in courageous ways to major tragedies? Why are they prepared to put their own lives at risk in order to help others – people they often don’t know?
Is it because such tragedies bring out values that are common to all of human society – such as caring for others, shared sense of belonging, generosity and love?
Can we learn from these ordinary people – people who are just like you and me?
What if we tap into those same values in our everyday life? What if we don’t wait for tragedy to strike but use those same principles when dealing with other people? When faced with difficult decisions that require courageous actions, let’s draw on those shared values to give us strength and then courage.
Let’s practice courage in action.
"You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally, 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery, and I promise you, something great will come of it." Matt Damon to his son in "We Bought a Zoo."