If you live in the UK and have an hour and a half to spare (and if you don't, I suggest not bothering with the washing up for a few days so you can free up a bit of time - I promise the resultant squalor will be worth it), you must watch the BBC drama The Best of Men on iPlayer before it disappears. Set at the end of WWII, it explains how the Paralympics got started. It's funny, sad, moving and inspirational and everyone should watch it. It has made me laugh, cry, think and anticipate the forthcoming London Paralympics even more excitedly.
The injured soldiers - the best of men mentioned in the title - are encouraged in their awe-inspiring journeys to recovery and triumph by Dr Ludwig Guttmann, a German neurologist who founded the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital a year before the war ended. The men might easily have languished, broken and largely forgotten, in residential care for life, if not for their advocate who believed that physical activity led to increased confidence and strength and the likelihood of a swifter and fuller recovery. Their courage, hard work and determination was incredible. And astonishing, too, was the Dr Guttmann's willingness to risk looking a fool in front of his colleagues when he pioneered his unconventional method of treatment.
No doubt the drama employs a certain amount of creative licence, but it suggests that Guttmann's British counterparts were sceptical of his ideas and regarded them with derision. Words like moribund and incurables are tossed around when describing the patients in their care. They displayed attitudes that, in these enlightened times, are rightly regarded as limited and backward and narrow. But - and this last occurred to me when I watched the movie Amazing Grace - these attitudes are only seen as unenlightened or limited or backward or narrow when someone exposes them as such. When someone sticks their neck out and risks looking a fool. When a rebellious maverick stands up, says the unsayable and invites criticism and ridicule in the process.
There should be more of that, shouldn't there? An inclination to challenge. Temerity when it matters. Fortitude in the face of injustice. The nerve to disagree with others when we really, genuinely believe they're wrong.
Otherwise, perhaps, the Paralympics wouldn't have been founded. Slavery would have lasted longer. Homophobic bullying would be more rife than it still is. And so on and so on and so on.
It offers inspiring food for thought, doesn't it, the redemptive and liberating power of such bravery?
I hope I'll remember Dr Guttmann's example next time I'm tempted to look the other way. I hope you will too. It might make all the difference to someone.