Monday, 5 April 2010

Live to fight another day?

'He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.'
One can never be entirely sure how sayings and proverbs came into being or how they are really meant. In any case, what we can be certain about is that they aren't meant for selective application. More and more we have conveniently turned this one into 'He who runs away, lives to fight another day', thereby distorting the fundamental message within. Reflecting the self centered, egotistical folk we have turned out to be. Most of us that is, with the exception of a (very) select few.

It was late, very late. Well past 1:00 in the night. Munich is known to be an extremely safe city, I believed that, feeling very safe indeed as I walked to the sub-way. A young couple walked in front of me on the same dimly lit street. The man a slightly built, moderately tall person, his companion similarly slight in built, of course in a more feminine way. But for our footsteps, not another sound was heard. Suddenly, breaking the peace of night, were thumping footsteps and loud cries from male voices. Black silhouettes whizzed past barely 5 meters from the couple, from all of us. Were there 2, more? The first thought that came to my mind is, naturally, one of self preservation. There was a definite exchange of punches, more yowling. Someone was in pain. Drunk teenagers on the loose, I tried to tell myself. An explanation nicely agreeable with my conscience. Dismissing the probability of someone being in trouble, maybe even in dire need of help.
Whilst I was negotiating my behavior with my conscience, the young man in front of me exchanges a few quick words with his companion and sprints off to the group calling back to his companion that more help may be needed (or something to that effect). There was not another soul around, should the situation go really foul. As he reaches the group, in the hope of singlehandedly helping, the police (thankfully) come rushing to the scene as well. It became quickly apparent that they weren't drunk teenagers, a serious situation after all. Phew, close call for him! Folly or bravado? Must we put a label on it? Let it then be 'Hero', for selfless, and yes, irrational compassion towards a stranger.

So Hero, I salute you!

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