Around 3 years ago, I visited E in Barcelona for a fortnight. On the final weekend, we stayed in her grandfather’s house located in a village in Pyrenees – the natural mountainous border between Spain and France. When we were there, she told me a story about her family. During World War II, her grandfather was a guard at the Spain-France border. As Spain and France were supporting different powers during the war, his duty was mostly to protect Spain from potential French threats. Besides doing that, he also quietly let French Jews through to Spain and saved their lives. E told me she is very proud of her grandfather for quietly saving the lives of Jews during World War II.
I also respect this man very much but sadly I did not have the chance to meet him. Why do I respect him? I respect him because he went beyond his call of duty and did what he thought was the right thing to do. If you think about it, how much respect do you have for a man who does his job and who uses “I’m just doing my job” as a misguided valid reason to justify their clinical behaviour? When E’s grandfather let the Jews through, he would bear the potential repercussions if his superiors came to know about his actions at that point in time. But if he didn’t let the Jews through in fear of potential repercussions and in the name of “I’m just doing my job”, he would live for the rest of his life with the knowledge that he kept his job by indirectly sending other people to their mass graves. Who makes a better man?
I think there is a hero that lies within everyone of us but many people silence their inner heroes out of fear. Why is there such a strong sense of fear in the society? What are we really afraid of? Are we afraid of losing money, losing “face” or losing something that we don’t even know what it is? When the moment arises, do you have the courage to stand up for yourself, think for yourself and do what you think is right?