MORE ABOUT SURVIVAL VS. VALOR – Marilyn Armstrong

We were watching a rerun of NCIS, an episode from a few years ago. The victim had given her life to protect others and her country’s secrets.

“She didn’t have to do it,” McGee pointed out.

“No,” said Gibbs. “She had a choice. That’s what makes her a hero.

Osprey (sea eagles) nest on the jetty

Some people have called me brave because I’ve survived cancer and heart problems and a lot of other life-threatening ailments. As it happens, I would have been just as happy to skip all of that and have a pleasant, uneventful life. For excitement, there’s always a trip to an amusement park where you can get a huge dose of adrenaline without being in actual danger — and it (usually) doesn’t require years of recovery and rehab.

I’ve managed to slouch into senior citizenship still alive but hardly deserving a medal. You don’t get medals for staying alive. Survival isn’t bravery or valor. A mosquito will do its best to survive. So will a slug.

LAKE TABOURIE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 04: Residents look on as flames burn through bush on January 04, 2020 in Lake Tabourie, Australia. A state of emergency has been declared across NSW with dangerous fire conditions forecast for Saturday, as more than 140 bushfires continue to burn. There have been eight confirmed deaths in NSW since Monday 30 December. 1365 homes have been lost, while 3.6 million hectares have been burnt this fire season. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Saving your own life (and occasionally, dragging others with you to safety) is natural. Staying alive is hard-wired into life’s DNA. Otherwise, life on earth would have long since vanished. It may yet.

My definition of bravery or valor is the same as Gibbs’. You have to make a willing, conscious choice to put yourself in peril for the sake of others. There must be a choice involved. Taking risks for fun, to make money, to get your adrenaline rushing through your blood vessels, or because you’re going to die anyway isn’t courage. It’s survival. Some of us are better survivors than others, but that doesn’t change anything.

Medal of honor from Obama

If you do it for fun, it’s entertainment. If you’re doing it for profit, it’s shrewd business practice.  If it’s choosing to live rather than die? It’s survival.

I have never done anything I would define as courageous. I’ve done exciting stuff, entertaining, and fascinating stuff. I’ve gotten myself into tight corners — almost always by accident — and lived to tell the tale. I’ve occasionally put others ahead of me to help when I could. But never have I put me in harm’s way to save another’s life.

The most I could be accused of is doing the right thing when it was not the easiest choice. I won’t get a medal for that, either.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all plus a big helping of cynicism.

7 thoughts on “MORE ABOUT SURVIVAL VS. VALOR – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. There’s a lot to be said for survival Marilyn. I’m just glad to see my friends and acquaintances who have made it thus far. Old age isn’t for the faint of heart.
    So if nothing else, we aren’t the faint of heart.
    Leslie

    Like

  2. I consider myself a lioness in a sheep fur. I cd probably kill somebody if one of my family was threatened seriously, but I’d give away any secret if threatened by physical hurt…. I wd be an excellent survivor though in rough times, as I have lots of body reserves and need very little to eat. 😉🙄

    Like

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