Apr 11 2 Comments

Would you risk your life to give strangers food?

Here are some brave people. Shan young en and women going to school to become teachers in some of the poorest villages you can imagine. Photo by Jon Ivar Solberg

Here are some brave people. Shan young en and women going to school to become teachers in some of the poorest villages you can imagine. Photo by Jon Ivar Solberg

“I am brave, but I am chicken sH_t,” sings Alanis Morissette. That is exactly how I feel. I am brave as long as I know that I will probably be safe in the end. I can do things that others call brave, but the real truth is that I can hardly take an ice-cold “bucket shower” without cringing. It is unlikely that I would ever throw myself in front of a tank in order to save lives. In theory I would, but I doubt that I would actually ever dare to.

The exception to my chicken poop-attitude would probably be if something were happening to my kids. Then I would likely turn into a vicious and rabid tiger with saliva dripping between my killer teeth. Would the same tiger attitude come to life if the lives of people I don’t know and whose language I don’t speak were in danger? I would love to say yes, but I have to admit that I just don’t know.

There is a man in Norway who the media and my country folks refer to as a hero. He is a hero because at the age of 40 he still wins Olympic medals. He is a hero because he goes to bed early and rises with the sun in order to get the maximum impact from his workout routine. He never drinks alcohol and at times he does all his hand shaking with gloves on so he won’t get any weird bacteria attacking his athletic body and giving him a common cold or worse. He is a hero in our country.

I think he is a good athlete, but a hero? Not even close.

Yesterday I heard of a hero. Actually two. Two men whom I know are both risking their lives in order to get food to the starving Rohingyas in Rakhine state, Burma. You may think that giving food to starving people is not an act that involves the risk of somebody’s life. Difficult? Yes. Uncomfortable? Yes. Dirty? Yes. Frustrating? Yes. But dangerous? Why would it be dangerous?

Because the people these two men are trying to help are wanted dead by the government in Burma. I am not making this up. I know that this is not 1942 and the ruler of Nazi Germany is not waging a war against anybody who does not look like his image of a perfect human being. I know we are in 2014 and we don’t normally starve people to death any more. And if somebody tries to, the world usually reacts with outrage and loud cries.

But not so with the Rohingya. When the government kicked out all foreign aid organizations a few weeks ago it left the 140 000 Rohingya internally displaced people completely desolate. “The parents can only sit and watch their children starve to death,” said one of our friends who is also a refugee. It is a little strange to me that the world cares more about the trial of Oscar Pistorious than about this fact.

Anyhow. My point is that there are two men out there somewhere—and I don’t even know exactly where—risking their safety and freedom in order to get food to some thousands who we know are starving. They are doing this to people whose names they don’t know, whose language they don’t speak, whose religion they don’t share, but whose future they care about.

I am in awe. And I am glad that not all the world is full of chicken-poops, but of people who dare to act on their convictions. May many of us dare to do the same, even though it may cost us our reputation, our comfort and even our lives.