Space to Think

So thinking can develop

Sir Ed – One of us

Today we farewelled Sir Edmund Hillary. I have been surprised by just how significant his death and the trubutes to him have been for me. Elsewhere I have offered some more theological thoughts, and have said there:

Someone has written in to Radio New Zealand National saying of Ed Hillary, “No one like him will pass this way again.” I think that this is understandable sentiment on the day of his funeral, but actually undermining what Ed stood for. He challenges all of us to live life as well and as full as he has. Of course he was unique, but only in the same sense as each of us.


Dean Peter Beck emphasised (in the funeral eulogy) the phrase, he was an ordinary New Zealander. Elsewhere in the tributes what was emphasised was Ed as an exemplar human being. It seems to me that we are helping define the concept of “ordinary” when we use a person of Ed Hillary’s accomplishments and call him ordinary. In other words, Ed embodies what we can be. This is much healthier than the kind of accolades that make a hero into something quite unattainably different than the rest of us. We claim Ed Hillary. We are not prepared for him to be so different that he is not one of us. He redefines in many positive ways what it means to be human and to be a New Zealander. That is why he is important to us. That is why we have and needed to pause to honour the man. He is us, and so we can be more than we would otherwise consider being.

Perhaps this is part of what we mean by leadership.

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January 22, 2008 Posted by | leadership | , , , | Leave a comment