Go Prepared

I can’t figure out a catchy title to this one, but here’s the quick thing on my mind at the moment.

First, if you’re a person who likes to go hiking in, say, tennis shoes, shorts and a t-shirt, with maybe a bottle of water and a cell phone and nothing else—please don’t. Please. Please don’t go hiking unprepared. I have no idea how many people our search and rescue team gets called to find who just went for a “short little hike” and ended up almost dead. Seriously. Don’t do this. By all means, hike and enjoy nature… but take my word for it: go prepared.

So anyway, I was on a mission this week and I went through this mental gyration I often face. I love to help find and rescue people, I totally do. But I have three little kids who need a daddy, and so sometimes I start doing mental math. One of the hard equations in the middle of a dark and unforgiving night is, “I’m out here risking my life for some adult who was unwise and brought this on himself. Does this make sense?”

So I was talking to my friend who was my team leader this week, and I was saying, “Ya know, if it’s some little kid, I don’t mind. If it’s somebody who was prepared but faced bad fortune or an honest mistake, I don’t mind. But if they’re just foolish…” and he stopped me there. “You can’t think that way,” he said. “Some missions are more rewarding than others, but you just gotta tell yourself you’re in this to help people and leave it at that. You cant’ pick and choose.” I got the impression that he must have done this math in his head several years and many missions ago, and that the unfinished statement was, “…or else you’ll go crazy.”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot today. I’m too tired to get into much of a discussion about it here, but the concept is centered about the idea of not categorizing or judging people. I suppose I could reduce it to, “I’m here to try to help save lives; not judge which ones are worth saving.”

That seems exactly right and correct. But it’s a much bigger concept, and much less academic and theoretical, once you’ve actually had to lay it on the line. There’s probably a wider application I need to make here, in my mind and in my heart.

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