Monday, August 4, 2008

The Posture of Courage

Some aspire to greatness, others have greatness thrust upon them.

Two situations today. One where the underdogs marched boldly to their fate, the other, the disadvantaged became heroes reluctantly. Question; which one displays more courage?

Most of us have heard of, if not seen, the movie “300”. It is a telling of the Battle of Thermopylae, where, in 480 BC, a force of 300 Spartan soldiers, united with a small number of troops from other Greek city-states, took a stand at a narrow pass and held off, for days, an invading Persian army of 100,000, before being wiped out to the man. In selecting his men, King Leonidas only chose those who had sons to carry on their family name. These were men who knew they were going to make a difference… but not a return trip.
No question of courage here.

On the other hand, 1879, Rorke’s Drift, South Africa. Somewhere around 100 fit British soldiers and some 30 sick and injured in Hospital, were put upon by about 3000 Zulu warriors. After a battle that spread over two days and got down to hand to hand and spear to bayonet, the Zulus withdrew and Rorke’s Drift survived. But only because of men like Private Hitch who was shot through the shoulder but continued to defend the barricade. Even after he was unable to fight, he distributed ammunition to the other men until he was too weak from loss of blood. He survived the battle. The Victoria Cross is awarded to only those showing the most exceptional valor. 12 were given out at Rorke’s Drift. In the face of such odds it would be easy to curl up into a ball and wait for the end. These men chose not to.

I think it takes as much courage to live as it does to die.

They say that “Life is a grindstone. Whether it wears you down or polishes you up, depends on what you are made of.”

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