The media has been doing a funny and sometimes insulting thing of late.
They bandy around the world hero with such reckless abandon it falls at the feet of football players for little more than a well-played game or crafty mark-goal combination. It is thrown around the necks of our celebrity exports and trails after pretty well any athlete who receives an accolade – you remember the calls for a national holiday when Cadel Evans came home fronting the pack at the Tour de France?
Those who give up their lives, or part of, for someone or something else; who devote their time and energy to a meaningful cause; to those who act without selfishness or with extreme courage – the media would be better terming hero.
Mia Freedman extolled on the care abandon with which we bestow the word hero upon our sports stars. I agree with her comments. Almost to the letter.
I’m not going to be drawn on this, particularly in light of the passing of an esteemed Melburnian who heroically shared his battle with cancer. He also played sport. Very well. I do not consider him heroic for his feats on the field. I consider this talent and determination and considerable skill.
The media have sensationalised the term and bastardised it almost as much as they have the cringe-worthy “un-Australian”.
Rather than carry on down this track, I’d like to share with you six people I’d prefer were called heroes. I haven’t sat and thought on this list for too long. It isn’t exhaustive, just important.
* A girl who survives a vicious rape and says “I am a survivor, not a victim”
* An intelligent and witty Australian, my spiritual Godmother, the indomitable Germaine Greer, who has forged a remarkable career with her wit, intelligence, determination. A lady who will not let her beliefs be affected by a patriarchal media
* Jane Goodall, a woman who has spent 45 years studying the social and familial interactions of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania and who has worked tirelessly on conservation and animal welfare issues
* Fred Hollows, an ophthalmologist who is best known for his work restoring eyesight for countless people in Australia and overseas
* Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, an Australian philanthropist, who hasn’t slowed down despite her 103 years, for her generosity, her patience, her candidness and her green thumb
* Claire, a girl who passed away at 24 years after a quiet, yet stoic battle with cancer. A girl who did not let her life’s fate stand in the way of living each moment she was on the earth. A girl who inspired others with her ability to look past her woes and keep living, who didn’t dwell on misfortune and never once complained. An amazing human being.