, , , ,

It is 1938. You are young, single and have a successful career as a stock broker in London.

You are making plans to take a much-deserved skiing vacation in Switzerland when you get a phone call from an old friend. You friend is in Czechoslovakia, aiding refugees who are trying to emigrate and escape the Nazi occupation of that country.

The friend urges you to come to Prague and help out. “Don’t bother to bring your skis,” he says.

Nicholas Winton decided to take his friend up on that offer. Because he did, 669 mostly Jewish children were able to escape Czechoslovakia and almost certain death in the concentration camps. Some of those kids went on to accomplish great things, and many of them are still alive today. Winton died earlier this week at the age of 106. His life story, and the incredibly daring escape he led in the days leading up to World War II, have been documented by The New York Times, and several films.

All of which would not have happened if Winton had decided to take that ski vacation instead of going to Prague and helping his friend. I wonder what I would have done if faced with that decision? I fear that I would have taken the easy path, and let someone else worry about world affairs.

“Why did I do it? Why do people do different things?” Winton told the Times in 2001. “Some people revel in taking risks, and some go through life taking no risks at all.”

What would you have done if you had been Nicholas Winton? Would you have taken the risk?