Steve Irwin was a passionate naturalist and conservationist. He inherited this passion from his parents and has been living with and learning about animals since he was a tot. He was courageous, exuberant, joyous, and dynamically energetic.
He was a Conservation Warrior! He taught children and adults to appreciate and respect animals and their right to survive.
Since the tragic death of Steve Irwin, there has been endless discussion about whether he was reckless or brave. I have heard everything from "that's what he gets", to Germain Greers' statement that, the animal kingdom finally gets it's revenge.
That is just nasty.
I contend that what may seem reckless on the outside may actually be the nature of the business. I admit I worried about Steve getting so close to animals but I also knew this is the way he chose to get our attention. Steve loved life and didn't want to die. He knew and took all precautions. He knew and chose to take all the risks of the unexpected.
Reckless? Is a football player reckless, or a Nascar racer, or a airplane pilot, police officer, construction worker, a gymnast? They are all well trained and take every safety precaution, but they know and accept the risks. So did Steve. In some of these professions and sports, the persons who push the risk envelope are the heroes and winners. There is a risk line that shouldn't be crossed. I don't know in any of these activities where that line lies. I certainly don't think it wise for a race car driver to strap his or her six month old baby in for a 200 mph spin around the track. But, I wouldn't go for that ride myself, anymore than I'd step inside a crocodile's space.
Risky? Steve Irwin knew rivers, the ocean was not his area of expertise. He was still learning the ocean. John Stainton (Steve's friend who was on the boat at the time of the accident), had previously said, "If ever he was going to go, we always said it was going to be the ocean," he said. "On land he was agile, quick-thinking, quick-moving and the ocean puts another element there that you have no control over."
Exploration has it's risks.
And yet Steve's death was a freak accident, not attributed to being daring or unknowledgable at all. Death from a sting ray's barb is extremely rare.
So that brings to me the question, why. What is the purpose of taking this young man with this young family, doing such good work? The eternal question.
There are certainly lots of parents having their first talks about death with their children. I sat down with my 7 year old nephew, who is a big Irwin fan. We talked about his courage and passion and how funny he was and how he and his work will be remembered.
Good on you Steve.