In general terms I believe we, as a community, have some rather differing ideas about what constitutes courage. Almost weekly we are harangued with stories of our brave young men at war, especially those stories pertaining to Anzac, which was, after all, an invasion of another country, Turkey. This is not to take anything away from the young men who went off on an adventure to protect, as they believed, the Empire we belonged to through the use of guns to kill other human beings. How does this differ in courage from the young 15 year old who took another life for a cause. Didn’t he think he was at war in the society in which he happened to live?
Then there was the young woman who jumped into the ocean to save an even younger boy of nine years of age. The boy lived and she died. Is this courage or instinct to protect someone more vulnerable than one’s self? After all, the first lesson in water safety is never to go in the water if there is someone in trouble, but to throw them a support or use a towel. Easier said than done, especially if you were the older one sent to look after the child.
For me, the greatest courage shown on the news or in a program on mental health aired during Mental Health week goes collectively to the workers who strive to support people with mental illness in hospital and other health services for the mentally ill. How do these workers keep returning each day when the problems continue and improvements are so small? This takes courage, day after day, courage beyond what I could do despite working in the field of intellectual disabilities. I could not work in this area, but am full of admiration and thankful some are strong enough and have the courage needed to face this huge task on our behalf.