When love carries a price, are we ready?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Out of the wars of the 20th Century, particularly World War II, Korea and Vietnam, came stories about terrible choices and tremendous heroism. One of those stories that burned itself into popular consciousness involved a soldier throwing himself onto a grenade thrown in the midst of others. The choice guaranteed the death of the soldier and the survival of those around him.

Generations have wondered, "What would I do in that situation? Thank God I never have to make that choice."

We thought all we had to do was stay out of war zones, away from hand grenades. Today that may no longer be the case.

The roles we take on in our lives, the jobs we hold, the responsibilities we assume in our work and our families, dictate much of what we are expected to do. Sometimes that includes throwing ourselves onto a grenade.

That's what happened in Newtown, Conn., last Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach, armed with nothing but their bare hands, literally threw themselves into harm's way in an effort to save their school and its children from gunman Adam Lanza.

These women ran without hesitation into danger, in the most honorable and noble way. We cannot know what lives they saved by simply taking the bullets that may have otherwise snuffed out other lives.

Standing in harm's way is something we expect from those we hire to handle those duties, like police orf emergency responders. They are trained to deal with danger.

But today, danger can materialize at a moment's notice out of nowhere, it seems. Then the question is thrown open in the seconds remaining to act: what to do?

Anyone in public life, in any place of work, may be asked to choose. Generally ,life does not challenge us by asking what in life is worth dying for. We develop elaborate systems to build safety into our lives, and yet the possibility of a terrorist materializing in our path, one of foreign or domestic origin, puts those plans into the air.

We would like to think such a thing could never happen in Monett. Yet, the people in Newtown surely thought the same thing.

No one knows where the grenade will land next.

The possibility behooves us to take stock of our priorities, to rethink who are our heroes, to hug our children tightly and to give honor to those who have not hesitated even in the face of great personal danger to do what they can for those they love.

Christmas teaches us to redefine love. On this Christmas, may we take the message to heart.