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Civil courage is defined as actions taken, despite personal danger or risk, to safeguard or protect other people. We can think of instances here and abroad in which a courageous person stood up to help or rescue others, often despite unjust laws or norms that placed both parties at considerable danger. Two diplomats in World War Two, Sweden’s Raoul Wallenberg and Japan’s Chiune Sugihara, helped rescue countless refugees facing murder. American Varian Fry, located in wartime southern France, is another example, as is the Protestant community in eastern France. What motivates a person to act to save others at considerable risk to himself? Does altruism play a role? Evolved “human nature”? Parental influence? Education? A random and sudden quirk? What would we do in the face of similar circumstances? Gene Homel has taught history and politics since 1973 at universities and colleges in Ontario and British Columbia. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, and has written and presented extensively on history and culture.