Who’s a giraffe? Someone who sticks his neck out, for the common good… But what exactly is risk?
Are those who think outside the box always those whose heads are also threatened by it? Are those whose heads are threatened always those who look beyond their own noses?
In a certain way, you risk a part of your life if you do something different than you would like to do in order to change something in the world. You might risk the life you’ve always dreamed of in favour of a life for others. You may not be in immediate danger of going to jail or being killed, but you may be risking many other things in favor of a life where you do not put your own will at the center. (Is a bodhisattva only a bodhisattva when he puts himself in danger with it?)
For example, if someone could make a career in a big bank, but renounces it to work in an NGO for less money and prestige, he or she will probably not end up in jail with it, but renounces many kinds of comfort, security and luxury that he or she could achieve, he or she would only think of himself and his family. Or take activists who put their school careers on the back burner in favour of a changed climate policy, such as Greta Thunberg as a prominent example – but also the many other, not so famous people who actually support the movement. They are not necessarily risking their lives, but perhaps they are risking the life they had imagined?
What about all those people who stand up for others in a special way and thus venture out of their comfort zone? Don’t they stick their necks out, even if they don’t risk their lives? But maybe they are risking their health, their marriage, their career, their friendships, their dream of a family home? Who wanted to evaluate that? In the end it’s the impact that counts, I think. What does a person actually achieve with his or her commitment? If he or she achieves a lot without putting his or her life at risk, so much the better! and at the same time no worse than with someone who does put his or her life at risk but perhaps achieves less with it.
That’s the way it is. Alone, giraffe=good person, although correct, is not the only characteristic. All animals are good, but the giraffe is in a special way – like any other animal, of course. But we have chosen giraffe as a symbol, because it sticks out its neck in a specific way, i.e. it protrudes visibly above the general public for the general public, without fear or feather-reading.