Did you read about Henry Worsley, the 55-year-old former British soldier who tried to walk across Antarctica solo and unsupported? He was taken ill after 71 days of walking, only 48km from his goal. He was airlifted to Chile for treatment but died of peritonitis.
This is a tragic story and one must admire the courage, determination and resilience of anyone who embarks on such an adventure. In this case Henry Worsley was doing it to raise money for the Endeavour Fund – a charity that helps wounded members of the armed forces.
I don’t know if the donations were curtailed because he didn’t finish the course. What I do know is that other people put themselves in some danger and incurred considerable expense in an effort to save his life. I am not convinced that such adventures, which hit the headlines because they are dangerous, are justifiable; or that others should be encouraged by the media attention that Mr Worsley and the Endeavour Fund have gained to embark on similar enterprises.
My attitude would be different if Mr Worsley’s expedition had been exploratory or scientific in its purpose. But it was intended only to move money from some people’s pockets to those of a charity – a charity whose aims I am in sympathy with, by the way – not to extend human knowledge or develop new resources.
I’m thinking like an economist, I know, and I don’t expect many people to agree with me. What do you think? Am I a narrow-minded materialistic curmudgeon who fails to appreciate the value of celebrating the human spirit? Or am I a level-headed realist who makes a valid distinction between valour and recklessness?