Following the recent tragic murder of Sgt Matt Ratana (or as the BBC puts, it ‘alleged’ murder), the press correctly described Matt as a Hero. In my book The Three Resolutions, and in an article on my other website I wrote about my thoughts on the subject of people ‘promoted’ to the status of Hero who wouldn’t necessarily describe themselves such. I suspect Matt would be like them.
There are two kinds of Hero. Those who, in a moment of threat or challenge or danger, throw themselves selflessly into the fray and do things that would otherwise make them, and most of us, dither. We read about them in times of war, in the main. After Guy Gibson’s bombing run he could have flown about miles away directing traffic, but he chose to draw fire for others. (Not sure what his crew thought of that.) Col Hal Moore could have surrendered at Ia Drang in the battle depicted in the film ‘We Were Soldiers’. History is littered with examples of people who went beyond the call -and expectations – of duty.
But there are different heroes, too, ones who may never be presented with an opportunity to be ‘brave’ but who live lives of Integrity. People who stand by their code of ethics and beliefs and who, if they make a mistake, stand up and acknowledge that mistake. Or those who, when they see mistakes made by others, challenge them openly. (Not by a back door or years later.)
I’ll be riskily frank, here. Many of the people who are described as Heroes aren’t heroes in the former, bravery-in-the-face-of-adversity style. Most heroes are unsung because they remain heroes only – and importantly – in the sense that they have integrity and, when challenged, act in accordance with that integrity. Those who have a sense of duty, of right and wrong, and who have also defined for themselves what they believe in and what they are willing to stand up for. If adversity does arise they act in accordance with that integrity – not ‘in the moment and without thinking’ because they are physically brave, but ‘in the moment and without thinking’ because they’d already been living a congruent life and what they did in the moment was in keeping with who they ARE.
Not, necessarily, in keeping with an imposed set of Ethics – but with their own, which may not be a direct match.
In my forthcoming book Police Time Management I explore the subjects of Principled Policing and the Code of Ethics with the above thoughts firmly in mind.
You might be interested when it comes out. I’ll let you know.
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