Hello again from Mountain Mecca & Hippy Heaven!
Who’s your hero? Why? Better yet, what is a ‘hero’? And even better still, why do we need them/why are we constantly creating them?
By now, most have you have heard of the Foley scandal – ad nauseum – but just in case, let me re-cap. Mark Foley, a U.S. congressman, was caught sending very “naughty” text messages to one of his minor-aged pages. Well, I guess the media has been hounding the young recipient of these messages, (how unlike the press to shamelessly harass and exploit someone), and the child’s parents have had enough. In a statement to the press, they asked the media to, “leave their hero son alone.” Now, I’m all for leaving the poor kid alone but “hero”? Explain what makes this kid a hero?
Hero is a word I hear kicked around so much these days it’s become a sort of journalistic hackey-sac ball. Our neighbour to the south is one of the biggest perpetrators but we’re all guilty. Americans love heroes; theirs is very much a hero culture. And I’m not suggesting that’s a bad thing (sorry guys, I’m going to pick on you again – but just a little), I am suggesting that it’s gotten a bit out of control.
A hero, by my definition, is someone who chooses to do something that requires an unusual degree of physical and/or emotional daring while being fully conscious of the risks and possible consequences. Rosa Parks is a perfect example of this. She CHOSE not to sit at the back of the bus while being fully CONSCIOUS that her action could have very grave consequences. Rosa Parks falls squarely into the hero column.
Fast forward to this century. What about Jessica Lynch? Remember her? No? The big army hero? Jessica was a soldier who had the misfortune of apparently being shot, captured, and abused by enemy soldiers, then taken to an Iraqi hospital. Another group of soldiers, also dubbed heroes, “rescued” Jessica. For something like a week, CNN became the Jessica Lynch channel, proclaiming her and her rescuers heroes at every conceivable opportunity. Hmmmm.
Am I crazy or do lots of soldiers get shot in the line of duty? Isn’t the chance of getting shot during a war kind of in the job description? And these blood-thirsty band of Iraqi goons who mercilessly dragged Miss Lynch to a hospital, of all places, to receive medical attention, what kind of monsters are these people?! By all accounts, including Jessica’s, the staff at the hospital took phenomenal care of her – she was assigned the only specialist bed in the entire hospital and one of the only two nurses on duty (the nurse even sat by her bedside, holding her hand and singing to comfort her). Reports indicated no gunshot wound or evidence of abuse. She did have a broken leg and some other injuries. When those brave soldiers arrived to save their sister-in-arms, the hospital staff…um…just kind of stood there and watched. Iraqi witnesses have expressed confusion about the Hollywood-style storming of the building as there were no soldiers in the area. There are even reports that they tried to return her to the Americans but the ambulance was fired upon as it approached the check-point. But according to the media, Jessica and pals were all heroes of the highest degree.
Last night my cat killed a mouse. She’s a hero! Well geez, the thing could have been carrying the Hanta virus and someone could have touched it and gotten sick, or even died! Look, if Jessica Lynch is a hero, so is Emily!!
I’m not hero-bashing. I love heroes. They serve an important purpose – to make the rest of us feel inadequate. Kidding, kidding. Heroes are living examples of the qualities that we humans aspire to, or at least we should aspire to. In a world that has been swimming with war, greed, corruption, and a cornucopia of other vices since the first caveman congressman slipped an underage caveman page a pornographic message chiseled in stone, heroes are the life raft that keeps us from drowning. We need them. But more than that, we need them to be real. When the word hero loses its meaning, we are all in danger of sinking.
I have known some real-life heroes. Dave Meyer was, and always will, be a hero of mine. Big Wave Dave rejected traditional, proven, treatment for his cancer. He made the choice to be part of clinical trials, knowing the risks. Thanks to Dave, future cancer patients may have alternatives to radiation or chemotherapy. Hero indeed.
Speaking of cancer, I was shocked to learn that many Americans do not know who Terry Fox is. I consider Terry one of Canada’s greatest heroes. For those of you who don’t know, Terry was a young man who lost his leg to cancer and then decided to run across Canada to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Remember, this was before every affliction under the sun had a ribbon, a bracelet, a fundraising run, and a celebrity spokesperson. Terry was the first. His Marathon of Hope began with little fanfare or attention but by the time he was forced to quit, because of the return of the cancer, every Canadian knew, and loved, Terry. When he died, we all mourned. And we all started to care about cancer research. What a hero.
One of my other, living, heroes is David Suzuki. You’ll see a link to his website on the left side of the screen. I call David a hero because he has dedicated his life to trying to help the planet. Long before terms like eco-friendly were commonplace, David took on the unpopular, and unappreciated, task of educating us about protecting the environment. And he did so in a manner that was friendly and welcoming – David’s not a big finger-wagger (but he doesn’t pull any punches either). As a scientist, I’m sure he could have made far more money, and had a far cushier life, by selling out to big business. But he chose not to. Hero.
Other heroes of mine include Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Helen Keller, Dr. Martin Luther King, and the many brave women who fought for the rights of our sex (thanks ladies, I owe you big).
Maybe we try to create so many heroes these days because it’s getting harder to find people like the ones in the previous paragraph. I hope not.
Getting back to Iraq, I heard a story recently about an army doctor who applied for Conscientious Objector status because he does not believe the war in Iraq is legal or ethical. He was refused. So he went. But the entire time he served as a doctor there, he refused to load his gun. He said, “I would rather be killed than kill.” Wow. Apparently, he is now steadfastly refusing to return to Iraq for another tour of duty and is up on criminal charges. Apparently he is OK with that. He’s made his choice. As of yet, CNN has not called him a hero…but I will.
Question: Who is your hero?
OK, switching gears here…
Next week I am going to try something COMPLETELY different! I will answer your questions, any questions. Ask me anything you want and I will answer. Yes, I am a real blonde (just thought I’d get that out of the way first). Email me, or post your questions in the comments section here, anonymously if you like, and next week I’ll answer each one. I can’t wait!
Until next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life! Happy Canuck Thanksgiving everyone!