This week, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a hero.
In the UK and across the Commonwealth, we’re commemorating Armistice Weekend, when we honour all those killed in war.
Many were heroes, fighting to bring us the peace we’ve enjoyed in the developed world for the last 70 years.
Today, men and women continue to lay down their lives in conflicts. They too are “obvious” heroes, whom we rightly honour.
This talk of heroes has also got me thinking: who else do we class as heroes?
A hero could be anyone you admire for being remarkable. Maybe they’re someone who did something you wish you could do. Maybe they sacrificed something to achieve it.
At a seminar, I attended some time ago, a speaker asked the audience who their heroes were.
The answers were diverse. They included:
Ghandi for his wisdom and his peace-loving ways
The Dalai Lama for his spiritual insight
Richard Branson for brilliance at business while being “likeable” and for being an adventurer
Muhammad Ali for his ability to make an impact – both with language and the boxing glove
Helen Keller for overcoming so many difficulties to campaign for the deaf and the blind
Winston Churchill for his dogged determination in desperate times
Deepak Chopra for his advocacy of complimentary medicine in the face of the medical community
Ellen MacArthur for being a fantastic inspiration to women for her pure gutsiness.
The list goes on and on.
But heroes don’t have to be famous.
Looking around the world today at the amazing work being done by volunteers helping people from the rubble of the earthquake in Turkey, or those who volunteer medical assistance to the poor in Africa, I am struck with admiration for their selflessness.
Heroes also pop up closer to home. We’ve got the police, fire brigade and ambulance service, who all do amazing work and risk their own lives while doing it.
There are also people working in charities doing good for others, such as those who help our youth keep out of trouble and getting people back to work.
The fact is we are surrounded by heroes.
One answer that really stuck with me at that seminar I attended was in stark contrast to those famous people named above. One speaker said:
“My parents, for sticking with me and each other through thick and thin, for looking after me when I was young, and for loving me even when I was ‘being a teenager’. To them I return my love, for the love they gave to me.”
Whoever your hero is, this weekend, take some time to consider them.
See them clearly, appreciate their qualities, acknowledge and accept their limitations if they have them – and ask yourself, is there some way that if you were more like them, your life would be better?
Have a happy and peaceful week, wherever you are in the world.
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