What is it about movies like The Hunger Games, The Avengers, and even the notorious Twilight Saga that cause people to flock to the big screen with girlfriends or significant others in tow? Last year each of these movies were astounding box office hits – and I confess that I, together with my friends and husband, was one of the millions who watched Catniss take to the arena with her bow, Bella war for her family as a young vampire, and Iron Man save the world from malign aliens.
Why do people love these movies? Or more specifically, why do women love these movies? Sure Robert Pattison is a huge (teenage) oestrogen magnet, but is there some deeper resonance that women are responding to here? One of the reasons, perhaps, is that we love these characters’ capacity for courage. There comes a point in each of the movies where the heroes know their enemy has the physical upper hand, and still put themselves in harm’s way to save others. As small 1.64 m person it comes as a relief that you don’t necessarily have to be powerful (or fearless) to be courageous: you just have to see a need and have the conviction to do something about it.
Just like the women in the South African Woman of the Year award. Take the story of 2012 finalist Sinikiwe Biyela, 34-year old Director of LifeLine and Rape Crisis, for example. According to a press release, she was orphaned at age 10 yet “had the courage and determination to put herself through university while also caring for four of her siblings. Her background steered her to work with women and children in distress, fighting for communities free of gender-based violence, teaching them how to move away from violence and care for their children”. Or how about housewife Judy Govender’s story – after a traumatic burglary at her house, she “selflessly devoted her life not without sacrifice to positively impact thousands of South African prisoners in a life-changing way. Without any finance she started a non-profit correspondence school, Emmaus Bible School (SA) to educate and rehabilitate South African prisoners in a more meaningful way”. Ladies, this is what your courage can do.
These stories show us that though scary decisions have a price tag, they pull us into adventure and breakthrough. It takes courage to change history – ask Sinikiwe and Judy, Catniss Everdeen, or Jesus Christ – but it’s worth it, and our world needs it. What needs have you seen in your community that you want to do something about? I know I’d love to see the back of sex trafficking broken in Berlin. Or what stories of courage can you share with us? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!