Does the world really need heroes?

Earlier this year my friend Bernadette got to meet Bob Geldof, a huge hero of hers. She got to tell him about the impact he had on her life and the whole experience gave her a massive buzz. I remember loving the energy of the conversation when she told me about it and feeling a bit bereft at the fact that I will never have that experience … because I don’t have ANY heroes.

Just recently I have started to wonder why this is. I guess to truly answer that question we first have to establish what a hero actually is. The dictionary says it is:

“a person who is admired or idealised for courage,
outstanding achievements, or noble qualities”

Well there are an awful lot of people in the world who fit the above so how is it that not one of them has impacted me enough to achieve hero status in my mind? Sure there are plenty of people I admire and am inspired by, but there is no one who would blow my mind and render me speechless  if they walked into the room right now.

But while I feel a bit deprived in not having any heroes, I am also currently witnessing the huge amount of fallout from the Lance Armstrong debacle and counting my blessings. Armstrong wasn’t just that most ubiquitous of creatures – the sporting hero. He was a hero to those fighting cancer the world over. And now they are all devastated because they have found out their hero is a dirty, rotten, lying cheat.

Maybe this goes some way to explaining why I don’t have any heroes.

It’s because I know that all the people in the world are human beings and all humans are flawed.  It is after all these flaws that make us human.

And if you are a flawed human (in the exact same way that I am a flawed human), then there is no way I am going to put you up on a pedestal.

Because chances are, one day you will fall off and I will be left to pick up the pieces …


Do you think the world needs heroes? Do you have a hero? Who are they and why?

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  1. says

    A hero to me is someone who is imperfect and human.
    So this dictionary definition doesn’t quite fit.
    I think a hero is someone who shines a light on the truth for others and shows them what’s possible.

    Like a guy who wasn’t afraid of the consequences of writing these lyrics 32 years ago.
    A man who wasn’t afraid to stand for something

    Heros are passionate not perfect.

  2. says

    I met Bob Geldolf too, I had lunch with him, and stuttered and spluttered about changing the world while he patiently waited eyeing up the cooling fish goujons he was after. I felt a little ridiculous after. He was, after all, just a pale and pasty man, who had just mocked his hosts in his speech and sworn too much. Maybe we want to have heroes, but we don’t want to to see them for the ordinary people they are, because when we see their ordinariness, or their faults (or their stinking, rotten cheating), we need to take our rose tinted glasses of, and we end up a little disillusioned. But a whole lot more realistic, and empowered that we’re all just as good as everyone else.

    • says

      Yes – well that is kind of what I think too. We have to either (as Bernadette has said above) accept that our heroes are flawed human beings as well … or as you say, come to the realisation that at the base level, we are all the same (and just as good as the next person!)

  3. Marina says

    I once had lunch with my then hero – Tom Baker – the Doctor Who version that gave out Jelly Babies (and yes I had one). At the age of 9, it made a big impact on me. He was charming, friendly and a really nice bloke (who in my mind outwitted the nastier species in the universe) – pretty cool.
    Growing up, I suppose I compared most experiences of higher profile people to lunch with Tom.
    I’ve come across a few, but in my role as their nanny, I would be more focussed on me meeting their expectations, than what I expected/needed from them.
    For me it’s not so much individual heroes – but acts of heroism that impresses me. We all have out weak points and strengths. It’s when someone goes the extra mile – especially when it’s done selflessly for someone/something else – that’s what rocks my socks.
    It’s funny – when you ask a child who their hero is – before 4yrs – it’s usually mum or dad! They are the people who can rock their worlds!
    The book Tom signed, is now revered by my teenage daughter and her friends – reputations live on and guide us through our choices in life. Yes the world needs heroes – but I think it needs forgiveness and understanding even more.

  4. says

    I don’t think I ever idolised Lance as a hero, just admired his focus, determination and effort. Well, used to…

    But as for hero’s, no not as the true definition of the word anyway. Yes there are people that I am inspired by, both well known and everyday but I would probably be speechless or a blubbering mess if I ever met them. I’m just emotional like that!

    My favourite part of humans are our flaws and looking closely most of my favourite people in the world are heavily flawed…not sure what that says about me!

    Great post Kelly.

  5. says

    Very interesting Kel, I’d naively assumed everyone had heroes! Mine has long been Oprah Winfrey, because she embodies everything I aspire to be: kind, generous, successful and comfortable in her own skin. I love how she can talk to anyone, and make everyone at ease. She is the epitome of celeb crushes for me and I adore absolutely everything about her!

    • says

      I not only love that you have a hero and that it is Oprah – I love that you got to see her when she came to Australia! I kind of feel sad that I don’t have a hero :(

  6. says

    I met my hero about 6 years ago. A woman in her 80s who first came up with the area I study. I had read everything she had ever written and then flew over to the US and spent 5 days with her. She lived up to what I needed because she not only imparted her academic wisdom she took the time to cook for me, she introduced me to her children, she met my mum and my daughter and when I left she told me never to let anyone put their name to my ideas. She is my hero not because she is famous or rich or out there. She is just an ordinary person who believes in what she believes to be true. It was the most useful week and I am where I am because she gave me time (and a nice smile and relationship advice). Pretty good for a work trip! Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.

    • says

      Oh wow Sar – that would have been amazing!!! Do you think your hero need to be linked to a passion? Maybe I need to find a writer hero … surely there is someone in the writing world I can put on a pedestal (and expect them to stay there!)

  7. says

    As a mum of a child with cancer, I have many heroes. Many of them children. Little Miss Jessie was six when she grew wings in 2009. I have a tattoo dedicated to her on my left shoulder… along with a few others who touched my heart.
    Do we need heroes? Yes, definitely.
    I’m another who didn’t get the charm of Lance Armstrong. I’m guessing it was a good thing now.
    But what the world loses in heroes… they usually tend to gain more in the long term. :)

  8. says

    I don’t really like society’s current take on hero’s
    maybe is the fall from grace of so many
    maybe its gen y’s version of hero’s that scares me
    who knows?

    i think if our children can look up to us, their parents, and think we are hero’s – then that is a good thing