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Some people should take more risks, some less – that would be some of our children. Generally I’m a risk averse person. I’m cautious and long ago decided that if I’m going to die a tragic death, it should be for a cause. Thus, being shot while in a civil rights protest or because I stopped to help a person in distress would be tragic, but worth it. On the other hand, sky diving or bungee jumping would not count as worth the risk. My husband, Jim, however, has a different attitude.

Last Christmas he hinted that a really neat Christmas gift would be to fly in a glider plane. Now Jim is not a reckless person either so he didn’t want to make his own plane or fly solo, but he did want to be up in the air without an engine. So, dutiful wife that I am, I found a reputable place that lets a person fly a glider (under the supervision of a trained instructor). By April the weather was conducive and he claimed his Christmas present. It was a calculated risk and probably safe enough but that didn’t mean I didn’t pray and check our life insurance; nor did I fully relax till he was safely down.

This was also around the time that we decided to take a trip to Afghanistan to visit our daughter who is an international correspondent there. (We had procrastinated for several years thinking it was too dangerous or we wouldn’t even be allowed in.) She finally persuaded us that she would take us only to safe places, that we needed to come before she moved to another country, and it would be best to come before the “fighting season” began. Hmmm. Besides, she often reminds us that she (or we) could easily be killed crossing the street or by an elevator in New York City. Was this a worthy risk?

I decided that the visiting our daughter in a war zone qualified as dying for a worthy cause. Yes, it was worth it. We were greatly enriched and educated by the experience. We didn’t die – didn’t even get sick or break a sweat, although we did have to go through numerous security check points. We ended up feeling pretty safe. The irony is that several months after we returned we found that one of the “safe” restaurants we ate at was the scene of a late night attack by Taliban insurgents who killed 18 patrons. Hmmm.

How much risk are YOU willing to take for a cause? What are you willing to die for?

PS: Other risks that Jim recently took:

Taking swimming lessons and then jumping into the deep end of a pool

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Letting us blindfold him and paint his big toe nail with red polish