Firefighters Stephen and Brian enter a burning building to save a woman’s child. While you watch this clip, ask yourself, what’s right with this picture?
Stephen’s bravery is apparent. He goes into a burning building that no one else will go near. Brian follows him, but Stephen is the one who made the move. Acting in the face of danger and adversity, putting your safety aside to help someone else – this kind of bravery is all around us, and it comes when it needs to come. We judge ourselves too harshly sometimes. Stephen’s perseverance is evident once he is inside the building. He is blown back down the stairs, but he gets up and continues his mission. He does not let the fire stop him. There is kindness in Stephen’s actions. It would have been well within his rights as a firefighter to wait for the hoses, but he looks at a mother in need and acts without thinking about protocol. He is kind enough to know that there is nothing more important than getting the child back into the arms of the mother. Finally, Stephen’s leadership inspires Brian to follow despite his misgivings. Stephen does not ask for help, rather he leads by example.
Brian’s love for Stephen negates the decision-making process. He is led by Stephen’s bravery, but he is also led by love. He cannot sit idly by and watch as one of his fireman brothers puts his life on the line. The virtue of teamwork is one we could all pay more attention to. Being part of a team means being part of something bigger than yourself. Brian is part of a team and that trumps his fear and misgivings. He displays prudence in trying to accomplish his objective safely. Stephen’s bravado makes this seem like cowardice, but it is actually a very concrete example of prudence. In an emotional situation, he is still able to think objectively about the proper course of action and the ramifications of a misstep. Brian’s appreciation for Stephen’s bravery is evident in the final scene. He realizes that Stephen was willing to give everything, without thinking. It appears that he feels shamed, but he clearly appreciates Stephen’s bravery.
There are many times in our life when the “right” thing to do is not always the thing to do. If Stephen had followed protocol, there is a good chance the child would have died. A wise man knows when the risk is worth the payoff.