Gallantry and desperate valiance is the meat of myth, ancient and modern stories, radio, repertory and movies. Moreover, everyone loves such a great story and actions, as these are illustrations of selflessness and magnificent personal sacrifice.
Bed time stories of a handsome prince saving the princess damsel in distress is part and parcel of parents reciting children's pastimes along with actual great heroic deeds during wars and courageous actions by fire fighters, ordinary people saving a child from rushing water into a drain, a flooded river and the like.
The same applies when a friend is attacked by a shark, or when a dog attacks a child, someone is being seriously threatened in the street, and a thousand other examples. In most such circumstances the would-be rescuer does not ring a consultancy agency who does a professional calculation as to whether such an act might be life threatening.
Rather, the normal and usual reaction is to come to the aid of the person in desperate need, although loved ones standing watching it all unfold are often frozen in fear for their loved one's safety. How many times have we read of a father or relative or family friend who has gone to rescue young children or a mate in a river or beach only to drown themselves.
The end result is sometimes tragedy upon tragedy. The heartache for the family who has lost a real life hero and the traumatic horror of parents and relatives whose loves ones are saved by such a hero — they realise nothing is retrievable for the loss of the deceased and that family's ultimate sacrifice.
All this came to my mind when some years back as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, citing a tragic cruise ship scenario where a young man (30) and a young woman (27) were captured on CCV footage going overboard. (www.smh.com.au)
Recounted were a number of anomalies at that early stage of the investigation. An initial cursory viewing of the CCV footage was that the young woman went over the protective railing followed by the young man in a vain attempt at rescue.
Another anomaly was that the height of the protective railing was even higher that the security and safely rule recommendation. One could not go overboard without something of an effort on the part of the person, seemingly deliberately seeking to do so. The CCV footage has since shown her alone on the other side of the railing and then him jumping in after her when seemingly he realised she'd gone.
Any one of us
This article is to explore such a scenario and what any one of might be faced with in such a circumstance.
Any research and life experience reveals that mothers have highly focused protective energies to ensure their children do not come to any harm. If a child was to somehow climb upon a cruise ship's railing and looked as if they might topple overboard a mother would bash through any number of obstacles to reach her child.
Once, our second child was in a back yard swimming pool. I had noticed she an ability to swim naturally, and I gave a simple instruction to put one's head in and start kicking and the appropriate arm swim stroke movements. What I had not specified was to raise one's head to breathe. It very quickly became obvious that breathing was not on this child's agenda and I rushed into the pool, and raised this little person, whereupon further 'breathing' instruction was given.
On another occasion, some years later, when the fourth was just a toddler, at a church social function, accidentally fell into the swimming pool, I was up and going and did the rescue. Bystanders said they had never seen me move so fast. I had been carefully watching for such a scenario as our toddler moved nearer the side of the swimming pool.
But, what if two people were standing near a cliff, and such was the frustration and seemingly "nowhere to go" option available, that 'one of the two' felt there was nothing left to live for, and took a flying leap.
The other party had an instantaneous decision to make, that of reaching out in a desperate attempt at rescue. Or the other option - in that instant, consider that it might pull you over as well, not attempt the rescue, and then face the consequences of not attempting a rescue — along with the pointing fingers.
Then what of the military situation where a seriously wounded soldier needs urgent and immediate medical aid and the officer gives the uncompromising order not to attempt a rescue as it would be almost certain suicide and put many other lives at risk.
Gallantry and desperate valiance are part of our everyday lives in a fast pace life style. Jesus noted in John chapter 15 that there is no greater love than this, that a person lay down his life for his friend.
Yet, on the other hand the Apostle Paul affected many an escape from treacherous situations so as to fight another day. It's never appears to be a black and white situation.
At least we should be conscious of the many scenarios in which any one of might need to face where a split second decision may be required. There for the Grace of God go I.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html