Saturday, August 04, 2007

Backpage bravery

Charles Moore writes about unsung heroes and our need for their inspiration. As an example, he describes an interview on the Today programme with Will Rigby, whose twin brother, John, was recently killed serving in Iraq, and the twins' father, Doug. Will Rigby died on his 24th birthday. John is still in the army and will probably return to Iraq.

It is not so much the context of war that stuck me as Moore's description of how the Rigby's conducted themselves.

In the Today interview with the Rigbys, what was remarkable was not, for the most part, the words used, which were simple. In a way, it was what was not said - the lack of complaint, of self-pity, of self-dramatisation, of hysteria in grief. No point was being scored, no agenda was being advanced, no money (except for charity) was being sought. The family was speaking only because they wanted to pay tribute to their dead son and brother.

It is almost axiomatic that those who make the most noise are those least worth listening to. People like the Rigbys do not figure large in the popular consciousness, and it is hard to conceive of a media that would push them on to the front page. Yet, as a model of behaviour, their bravery and equanimity cannot be bettered. There was once an unarticulated imperative to act like this. It was 'manly'. It is futile to wish it back, but it is heartening that it still exists.

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