This story is nearly 80 years old. And has been retold many times, and worth telling again:
In August of 1949, fifteen men parachuted into a mountainous area of Montana to put out a growing fire. Within minutes, the fire exploded out of control, spreading at 660 feet per minute and threatening to consume the firefighters. Fourteen of the men turned away from the fire and ran for the ridge. One did not. He turned toward the approaching inferno and set the grass in front of him on fire. As the grass finished burning he yelled for his comrades to drop onto the resulting ashes to save their lives. In the end, he was the only survivor.
It is a dilemma all of us often face. What should I do: Take action, or run? Admittedly, sometimes running is the only action to take: to flee from sin is an urgent exhortation repeated in Scripture. When facing temptation, we might convince ourselves we are sufficiently strong when we are not. And then we should be running, fast!
However, there are many different contexts where running is actually the wrong choice. It might seem to be the only choice, but we need to ask ourselves whether this is actually the case. To take action is difficult. It requires time and energy. It can make us vulnerable and turns us to face our own deep insecurities and fears. It may mean difficult conversations. And so, we convince ourselves that there is nothing we can do, except run. By taking the easy option, we unwittingly cause greater harm than good.
A student is a victim of bullying. It’s easier to be silent and convince oneself that no one can help or that if you speak, that the bully will come with retribution.
If a student is a victim of abuse, it is easy to be silent and convince oneself that the fault lies with oneself, and besides, no one will understand.
If there is something that happens at school, it is easy for a parent to convince herself that it’s no use addressing because the school doesn’t listen.
If a child is going through difficulties and is being difficult, it is easy for parents to call it a phase, and “he will grow out of it.”
As a parent, you suspect that your child is misusing technology, be it visiting unsavoury sexual explicit materials, or gaming or whatever. It is easy to do nothing, because you don’t know what to do, or you just don’t want to go down there.
And so, the victims suffer, unacceptable behaviours continue, and parents gossip. Now flip these examples around. Surely, what huge gains are achieved by action rather than running. Hard as it might seem to be!
With Christian Greetings,
M Plug, Principal