The morale implications of resistance

In December of 2016, UK film-maker Phil Cox and his friend Daoud Hari made their way from Chad into Sudan to make a film about the war-torn Darfur Region. Within just a few days of arriving, they were kidnapped. They spent 70 days in captivity. The entire story is a compelling read and I want to give it to you first hand so here is a LINK to an article written by Mr. Cox, himself. Mr. Cox tells his story well and there is nothing I could say to improve it. However, what I want to focus on today are all the actions he took on his own behalf. He refused to be bested by the experience and he made conscious choices along the way to resist his captors and live.

  1. Mr. Cox began his string of good decisions before he ever left home. He opted to carry a tracker which he could activate if he needed to alert the folks back home that he was in trouble. He activated it as soon as trouble appeared and he smuggled it with him after he had been captured so that it continued to provide updated data as he was moved. This was not only of practical help, it also did wonders for his morale to know for sure that the good guys knew about his situation.
  2. He offered to allow his captors to use his camera but surreptitiously pressed the recording button when he handed it off to them so that he could obtain footage of his captors, his location, and his situation.
  3. He hid the memory card in a place he believed they would never find it so that he could smuggle it out to the free world.
  4. He showed his captors a photo of his 7 year old son and humanized himself to them by asking that they allow him to contact his family and wish them a merry Christmas.
  5. He pressured the guards, who had a vested interest in keeping him alive, by refusing food or drink until they allowed him to call home.
  6. He told the truth every time he was interrogated and his story remained consistent.
  7. He drew strength from his secret acts of defiance in hiding his memory card and using his camera to his advantage.
  8. He made friends with his cell mates.
  9. He told stories to lift everyone else’s spirits.
  10. He exercised in place every day to keep his body strong.
  11. He took care of his hygiene and sanitation needs to the best of his ability.
  12. He covertly encouraged Daoud in the hallway with a simple wink.
  13. He sent a simple message of love to his family through the embassy.
  14. He managed to secretly tell the embassy official that he was being tortured.
  15. He cleaned his cell to the best of his ability.
  16. He decided to maintain a positive outlook.
  17. He took mental trips home as he exercised.
  18. He smiled at the guards to encourage them to be his allies.
  19. He organized nightly entertainment through a translator.
  20. He allowed his spirits to be buoyed by care packages from the embassy and took courage and strength from knowing that they were working on his case.

Phil Cox had amazing instincts. Somehow he knew that morale was critical to survival. He made many decisions on his own behalf that kept him in the fight. Eventually, he was released and he used the photos and video on his memory card to tell his own story.



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