We can be heroes

16 Apr

Some amongst us live big lives. We call them heroes. Whether they are trained and regularly tested in their heroism or whether circumstances require them to do something beyond any training or ordinary expectation, they make a significant difference in their world and in ours.

They’re the emergency services teams – the police, the paramedics, the firefighters – who responded in Boston this morning and in Fukushima in 2011 and in Victoria in 2009.

They’re the humanitarians and aidworkers and fundraisers and peacekeepers who respond in Darfur and Mali and Syria.

They’re the surgeons who operate in the fistula camps in Central Africa as well as in the cardiac units of Sydney. They’re the teachers who open the eyes and the minds and the hearts of the children they’re entrusted with and lead them to a passion for life and learning rather than a fear or rejection of it.

These heroes give of themselves, sometimes at the expense of those they love – husbands and wives and children feeling their absences, friends and causes and private interests abandoned – because their expertise, strength  and courage is needed elsewhere.

They’re often the leads in romantic novels, although those fictional heroes and heroines only rarely capture the depth of real character displayed by real people in unreal events.

Let me tell you who I think the true heroes are not.

They’re not the rioters in the UK vilifying a politician who, regardless of how different her politics were to theirs, served her country in a job few thought could be done and fewer wanted to risk doing themselves.

They’re not the celebrated golfers and footballers who, while probably just as devoted in their training as police and ambos and firies, walked away from work last weekend with at least a dozen times a police officer’s salary and a magnitude more glory, without making a difference to anybody outside themselves.

They’re not the cowards who set the bombs in Boston because they couldn’t bear to see others enjoying healthy, free, fearless joy in themselves, their working bodies and their community.

Some amongst us live big, heroic lives. We honour them most by living heroically ourselves, however big or small we think our own lives and our own significance.

We honour them by standing up and speaking out for the things we believe in; by challenging sexism and racism and homophobia and xenophobia when and where we see it; by teaching our children that the smallest acts of violence – against others or against themselves – eats away at their heroic, human core; by looking out for each other in the cliched but so-important random acts of kindness.

Whatever your day brings today, your expertise, strength and courage is needed. Be your own hero, in your own lunchtime. Your life is big enough.

One Response to “We can be heroes”

  1. arabellastokes April 16, 2013 at 9:27 AM #

    Well said. Thank you.


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