We are built with such an intense instinct for survival aren't we? Obviously. It's not at all surprising. It's such a deep-set part of our make up, from the foods-that-are-dangerous-to-eat-smell-disgusting instinct, to the fight or flight instinct. And fight or flight we do. We are also fortunate that a good portion of the human race are willing to fight on behalf of others. Think Live Aid and Band Aid, think Tearfund and World Vision, think the City Mission. Think of strangers in the street who will (I hope) help you out if your life is at risk.
When lives are at risk, we act. So often it is urgent. It is phone calls. Speeding ambulances. Helicopters. Search and Rescue teams. Ropes and ladders. Defibrillators. Donated blood. There might be lots of shouting. Running.
We had a couple of those things along the way. And we had some seriously hard workers and some seriously hard-core medicine. But when you are dying from an illness, there is none of it. There is great care and great skill and great love. But none of the other. There is nothing to do. Those standing alongside have to somehow stuff all that survival instinct down in to the pits of their stomachs. And the fight? What do you do with the fight? Stuff it away somewhere too.
Listening to radio reports on the coming 'Frankenstorm" on the East Coast of America moved me to tears yesterday, as often happens when I hear news of lives at risk and survival attempts. Not because I have some new found empathy for those in danger. But because I wanted so badly to fight. Or flight. How I wish we could have bundled us all in to a car, bought up packs of candles and baby food and run from the storm. Run for our lives. I'd live on foreign shores and by candlelight for the rest of my life to have saved his.