WISE advice was given to me in the first week I was on the job as a 19-year-old police officer just hitting the streets in Auckland: "Run to a fire, walk to a fight."
New Zealand has announced that we are walking to the fight in the Middle East between sovereign states and the lawless bandits called Isis.
We are one of more than 60 countries committed to helping Iraq fight these people who are happy to behead others for believing in a different religions and then report their activities to the world's media.
They are happy to have children slit the throats of their captives and burn people alive who would normally be held as prisoners of war to the end of any conflict - that is, if their captors aligned themselves to any form of international code.
They are like a gang operating across borders and not sticking to their neighbourhood but straying around the world for the greatest impact and seeking to inflict the greatest amount of fear.
They are very good at it, because many of us have moved to a resignation that they will continue to commit atrocities and they will do so closer and closer to our shores, if not in New Zealand.
This will occur at the whim of Isis and regardless of what action we take or comment we make. If we kept our troops in New Zealand, training for war on the Desert Rd but never using that training for the purpose it was intended, and just sent clear and emphatic anti-Isis messages across the airwaves, we would be just as big a target. I have an analogy in my mind of seeing yobs beating up on an outnumbered out-muscled and unarmed victim in the street and then crossing to the other side of the road, continuing to walk past and making sure not to be noticed or seen as a threat in case I draw the ire of the assailants. And all the time, consoling myself that the beating is not my concern.
I have spent my life getting involved in other people's fights at their request, or when they obviously need somebody to step in to prevent a severe beating or worse.
That is why I jumped my neighbour's fence years ago, walked through his back door and stopped him belting his wife. It's why I jumped into the middle of a one-sided scrap between one hyped-up, booted, leather-clad cow and what looked like a schoolgirl.
At times I walked into pub fights expecting to be hurt but knowing that no intervention on my part meant a worse result for one of the parties being set upon. It is a duty of people who can help, to help when they can. It is about being a responsible citizen.
I have no doubt we are doing the right thing in sending Kiwi soldiers to train the Iraqi defence force to fight Isis. They have skills that will help.
New Zealand has been asked for help by a country in trouble. I am aware that it is dangerous for the people who go and that there may be "payback", but I have no doubt that, in the same situation, any New Zealand government of any political hue would do exactly the same.