Friday, August 17, 2012

Not About Heroes

This time, it's getting posted.  No more write, edit, delete, start again.  Deep breath...

Post title is from a play. An absolutely brilliant play by Stephen Macdonald, drawn from Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon's time at Craiglockhart near Edinburgh.  Back in the 1980s, Mum took me to the play and at the end of the first act the theatre was still.  In shock and utterly caught up.  There was about 5 minutes silence before the thrall was broken and the standing ovation began.

What is a hero?  Who is a hero?

We can look to the sagas, myths and chronicles.  History shares much the same definition - a warrior who fights (and sometimes dies) on behalf of good.

Modern media widens the definition.  It is no longer just on behalf of good, but achieving a goal - generally sports, sometimes business.

This makes me fume, it makes me despair.  Such narrow definitions that do great disservice to what humanity is capable of.

Definition:  a hero is someone who does what they believe is right, generally against the odds or mainstream opinion.  Some names and reasons are easily recognisable, others less so.

Sassoon was a hero - he spoke out against the bloodiness and stupidity of war.
Sassoon and Owen were heroes - they wrote and published what they saw as the truth. My mother's father, who served as a stretcher bearer and medico in WW1, then as intelligence in WW2, because he couldn't reconcile it with his conscience to fight, nor to not be involved.
Nelson Mandela - stalwart against South African apartheid.  Stephen Biko - ditto.  Christy Moore - for singing it.  Neville Bonner - first Aboriginal Senator in Australia.  Eddie Mabo - fought for land rights in the High Court of Australia.  The Gurindji people, who walked off Wave Hill Station in protest of poor working conditions and for what we recognise as the start of the land rights movement.

Pick an artist in any field - they generally struggle to create (time and/or money) and it does not pay well.

Pick any political activist - it takes guts to stand up and say this is wrong we need to change things.  I'm including environmental activists and workers in this.  And the ferals who camp in the trees and the bush and try to draw attention to the destruction of our world.

Pick some politicians.  It's actually not that well paid when you think about what is involved (and there is a LOT of tedious stuff that has to be done in the background) and how exposed your life is to the media.  Hopefully, some of them are there because they want to improve the world.

People like Pen Farthing, trying to help animals in war zones (  People who work in animal shelters and rescue all over the world.

People who live their lives in desperation (violence, illness, depression, poverty - whatever) and keep wading forward and try to make the best of it.

Pick people like Mum Shirl, Tedd Noffs, Fred Hollows who spent their lives helping others.

Pick not just those who work on the large scale, but also those who simply try to live principled lives and make the small changes that can ripple outwards and influence others in a quiet way.