Bravery and Bravado?

“We always have to ask ourselves whether the level of risk is worth the story. What is bravery, and what is bravado?”

“My answer then, and now, was that it is worth it.”

She did know the risk.

And she still took the risk.

Finally lost this time — and she was the story. The story was..

The Syrian government forces bombed foreign correspondents temporary “headquarters” in Homs, Syria by honing in the satellite phone transmissions. Journalist Marie Colvin and photographer Rémi Ochlik were killed.

Maria Colvin, Promoter Artisan, always went to where the action was.

If not, she would create it: as a teenager from Long Island she organised an anti-Vietnam demonstration in the streets of Oyster Bay, then created minor mayhem by designating her family home’s front yard an ecological recycling zone.  After attending Yale University, she became a journalist.

“Artisans view life as chancy, risky, a leap in the dark, a crap-shoot-and they would have it no other way.” [Personology]

Specialising in the Middle East, she also covered conflicts in Chechnya, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and East Timor. In 1999 in East Timor, she was credited with saving the lives of 1,500 women and children from a compound besieged by Indonesian-backed forces. Refusing to abandon them, she stayed with a United Nations force, reporting in her newspaper and on television. They were evacuated after four days. She won the International Women’s Media Foundation award for Courage in Journalism for her coverage of Kosovo and Chechnya. She wrote and produced documentaries, including Arafat: Behind the Myth for the BBC. She is featured in the 2005 documentary film Bearing Witness. [Wikipedia]

She loved life, and brought an American exuberance to the countless parties she graced over many years. From the Gandamak Lodge in Kabul to Harry’s Bar in Paris, she could be found at the heart of the conversation, cigarette and brimming vodka martini in hand. Sitting under the date palm in the garden of the American Colony in East Jerusalem, she would preside over the chatter and laughter as the balmy nights stretched on.

In work and in play, Promoters demand new activities and new challenges. Bold and daring at heart, and ever-optimistic that things will go their way, Promoters will take tremendous risks to get what they want, and seem exhilarated by walking close to the edge of disaster.  [Please Understand Me II]

“Tyrants were charmed by her and sought her out, even as she eviscerated them in print”

Marie Colvin herself reported from Kosovo, and freely admitted that she constantly weighed “bravery against bravado”. Around the turn of the century that balancing act took her closer to the edge than ever. First, in 1999, she scored her dramatic triumph in East Timor. Then, while the world was celebrating the new millennium, she appeared to have pushed things too far in Chechnya.

Based with Chechen rebels as Russian troops cut off all escape, she found that the only route out was a 12,000ft mountain pass to Georgia. During an eight-day midwinter journey she waded through chest-high snow and braved altitude sickness, hunger and exposure. Her husband at the time, Bishop set off from Paris to the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, where, together with her Sunday Times colleague Jon Swain, he helped organise a helicopter from the US embassy to pluck her off the mountainside to safety. As Marie Colvin wrote: “I was never happier to have an American passport.”

She did not often require such assistance. And her time in Chechnya did not make her change her ways. Instead she was soon in Sri Lanka, as ever heading into rebel – this time Tamil Tiger – territory. As she tried to cross the front line back into government-held ground, she was hit by shrapnel in four places. Despite specialist surgery, she lost the use of her left eye and afterwards wore a patch.

Quote1.pngWhat is bravery, and what bravado?Quote2.png — Marie Colvin

4 thoughts on “Bravery and Bravado?

  1. Jessica McLean February 29, 2012 / 2:25 pm

    Inspiring story. I’m a journalist and oftentimes I wonder if my work is all worth it or just side-line commentary. It’s good to hear that someone like Marie Colvin was still able to find the action behind the story she wrote. Bravo!

    Like

  2. Ryan Hee April 26, 2012 / 5:37 pm

    I have an ESTP type code and I think the eye patch adds to her “flavor.” I also have been in Tamil Tiger territory where I did tsunami relief work in 2005 and 06. Great story, esp. about a female ESTP and also because it goes beyond the prototypical athlete profile. Nice.

    Like

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