Defying the urge for self-preservation history records the names of those ordinary people who sacrificed their own lives in order to save others: #aliceayres #johnrobertfox #vincentcoleman #arlandwilliams #elizabethcoghlam and #richardrescorla to name just a few. Each one gave up their own life in order to save others and in many cases the lives of complete strangers.
This week a new name was added, that of Anthonius Gunawan Agung, the 21-year old air traffic controller who remained at his post in the control tower at Palu airport when an earthquake struck the Indonesian city on 28thSeptember 2018. While others fled, Anthonius stayed in place to make sure that the last plane on the runway, carrying 148 passengers and crew, took off safely. As the plane lifted into the air the control tower collapsed beneath him.
So often in the midst of terrible tragedy stories emerge of individual acts of heroism and self-sacrifice that continue to inspire hope. History writ large is itself a tragic litany of humankind’s selfishness and tendency to self-destruction, but at heart of history stands the figure of Jesus Christ – the pre-eminent example of one person who sacrificed himself to save others.