Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Heroic or Suicidal?
You may have read about the 11 (at least) climbers who died this week on K2 in Pakistan. Whenever a climber dies on one of these mountains, articles invariably refer to him or her as "heroic". Tell me, what's heroic about climbing a 28,000 foot mountain that will kill you if you make one mistake, or if misfortune finds you?
I find it sad and strange that we often find these foolish, egotistical thrillseekers being hailed as heroes for doing something that is in no way heroic. They are knowingly and willingly placing themselves and everyone else on the climb in mortal danger. And for what noble purpose do they risk the lives of so many? Ego. Don't try to make it into something that it's not - it's purely an ego thing. They do it so they can say that they climbed such-and-such.
There's no heroism in doing something that doesn't benefit another human being. It's incredibly selfish behavior, to put others in terrible danger so that you can join a foolish fraternity of narcissists. I feel sad for the families of the dead, to think that they have to suffer without their sons, fathers, husbands, because they put their selfish egotistical desires above the needs of their families.
The mountains will always attract fools - people that think there is some sort of glory to be found in standing at the top of a mountain. When you think about all the other things that are truly heroic, it's an insult to call one of these mountain climbers a hero because they died in a place that humans aren't capable of surviving. Save the label "hero" for people that actually save lives, not for those that throw theirs away.