Thursday, October 2, 2008

Courage, Endurance, Mateship, and Sacrifice

The foundation of the Australian Army could be epitomised by these words above. The legacy of the Kokoda Track is a great example of this, particularly mateship.[1] The Isurava Memorial stands as testament to four-day battle at that location in August 1942 where the Australians and Japanese lost hundreds each even though at times the Australians were outnumbered six to one[2] and some put it at ten to one.[3]
There are a plethora of heroic stories of the Anzacs and Australian diggers, but I wanted to pull-apart each of these terms above as we pursue the character traits of our ideal faithful service man and woman, as a generic tribute to these four character qualities.
Courage means “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”[4] The Greek term tharseo means “to be of good courage, to be confident, hopeful, to be bold, [and to] maintain a bold bearing.”[5] For at least one blogger, “Courage is to do life ON PURPOSE.”[6] For some, it’s bearing up in the midst of a parent’s diagnosis with cancer. Courage is required ‘in the midst of’ or ‘despite’ a set of arduous and adverse life conditions.
This quality is about ‘remaining-under’ pressure and withstanding it, patiently. The New Testament uses the word hupomone, meaning “patient endurance” and “perseverance,”[7] whilst Merriam-Webster has it, “the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially: the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity.”[8] Endurance is perhaps most important for others during war, at least as much as self.
This is almost exclusively an Aussie concept with application to the whole of humankind. It can be described as “tolerance, mutual respect and compassion for those in need... where people help and receive help from others voluntarily, especially in times of adversity,” [and] a mate can be a spouse, partner, brother, sister, daughter, son or a friend. A mate can also be a total stranger.”[9] Mateship must be a form of fellowship generosity that signifies the essence of community.
The Greek term thusia brings life to this word. It is “the act of sacrificing.”[10] It could mean “Greek: zao (to live) thusia (as a sacrifice) ~To forfeit (one thing) for another thing considered to be of greater value.”[11] In terms of service it could be about sacrificing one life for another, or it could simply mean sacrificing one’s needs for another’s. Think for one moment, or ponder a lifetime, the immense sacrifice service men and women have made through the decades and centuries that we might enjoy this life now.
Copyright © 2008, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
[1] Captain Andrew Bird, ‘Kokoda’s Heroes Return’ in Army – The Soldier’s Newspaper, August 29, 2002, Available at:
[5] Wesley J. Perschbacher (Ed), The New Analytical Greek Lexicon, (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1990), p. 199.
[7] Wesley J. Perschbacher (Ed), Ibid, p. 422.
[10] Wesley J. Perschbacher (Ed), Ibid, p. 205.
[11] See

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