Sunday, August 26, 2012

You can be a hero, just for one day

I'm no hero. I've never done anything heroic in my life, but I should be a hero, as everyone else seems to be. Last night a friend was telling me about a woman who has organised Meals on Wheels for Jewish peeps in her local area for twenty five years. He suggested she should get a gong (an honour from the government). I agreed, until he told me it was a paid position.

I just will not have it that people who just do their paid job are worthy of awards.

While of course it is sad that Neil Armstrong died, and wow, it is quite some achievement to walk on the moon, he wasn't a hero. The commercial television news was sickening with repeated references to him being a hero. He did his job. He had a lot of training for the job. The poorest US taxpayer paid for his training. He went about his job very proficiently and certainly achieved. It was a truly remarkable moment in world history. I watched it live at school but only now do I realise what a technological achievement it was for the US.

Armstrong sounds like he was a good bloke, but he was not a hero. People who satisfactorily perform their paid jobs are not heroes. Even those who do better than satisfactory are not heroes. They are just really good at their jobs.

And well paid politicians and high ranking public servants are not heroes. They are just doing their job too. (Sir Humphrey is turning in his grave).

A hero is someone who risks their person, physical or otherwise, to help someone else. A recipient of an award should be someone who is not paid to do something, but sacrifices their own time to benefit a community. There are many people who I know who give an extraordinary amount their time for the public benefit. These are the people who should be recognised with an honour.


  1. I think I probably disagree.

    I don't think it matters if someone is paid to do what they do.

    I think they'd be heroes for CHOOSING that particular career.

    I think it's brave and heroic to choose to go to space.

    As for someone like a firefighter. I think it's wrong to say they're a hero for saving someone. That's their job. But I think they're a hero for choosing that line of work; and then going through with what they're supposed to do...if and when the time comes.

  2. I guess what I'm trying to say is I think most firefighters are heroes, whether or not they've had the chance to save people yet or not.

    As for the meals on wheels woman...maybe she goes above and beyond.

    I'm reading a novel now about a photographer during the Vietnam war. He's paid for his photographs; but I think the character is still heroic.

    He's chosen a career that's a HUGE risk to his life. And part of the reason he does it is that he cares about the people struggling through the war. To me, that's heroic.

  3. Someone once offered me a job [many years ago] helping in the kitchen at a rural bowls carnival. Tens of people from all over the peninsula were descending on the town, and the tea ladies were in a flap.
    One old biddy had ‘invented’ cheesecloth teabags for CWA sized teapots, to ensure no one could read their teacups. [It took muggins here a full half hour to get the dead tealeaves out of the bags each time before they could be re-used.]
    The next day the old biddy had a stand-up bitch-fight with another old power-pussy about whether or not to cut the crusts off the sandwich quarters. They were just unpaid volunteers, but if either of them got a gong for services to the community I’d be spewing.
    But I agree, Andrew, mostly gongs are just a crock. Paid or unpaid, the minimum should be life on the line over and above the call of duty.
    Why should Bob Menzies have been knighted? What next… the AG award for best wit in parliament goes to Fred Daly for his comment “The Country Party has two policies, one for people, and one for sheep”.
    Well, there would be no award awarded at all, these days, would there?

  4. Michael12:14 am

    I honestly feel the term 'Hero' have been deflated over time. Sportpeople are.not heroes.
    All that glorification of sports in Australia and commercialisation of it has cheapened.the term.

  5. Dina, maybe people who save lives at their own risk are heroes, paid or not, but astronauts are not saving lives, even though their own life is at extreme risk. You could argue the work for the benefit of man and woman kind, but it is arguable.

    FC, old women power playing is surely one of the most vicious of sports. Fred Daly was great and I think Jim Killen, just to keep things balanced, was pretty good too. If one politician deserved a gong, it would be Bob Brown who has donated so much of his salary to elsewhere than his own pocket.

    Michael, someone who kicks a winning goal can be a hero, but not in my book. You are correct. Like swearing all the time, the use of the word is devalued.

  6. Well summed up, Shirl.

  7. Like you, I wondered about referring to Armstrong as a hero and then I thought how would I feel about going into space on an unprecedented mission which might in all possibility mean the end of my life. I don't think I could do it, no matter how much I might be paid.

    The definition of hero starts;

    'a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities'

    On that definition and the general view of the quality of the man in the intervening years, I can accept him being referred to as a hero. Much more so than our sporting 'heroes', anyway.

  8. Hemingway defined courage as grace under pressure. A footy player who manages to kicks a goal from a long way out after the siren has sounded and a win hangs on it is a hero to many. I don't begrudge them that.

  9. I agree. And I get tired of all the sycophantic stuff when someone dies, just because they're famous. Thankfully I was away and missed most of it this time round.

  10. LS, in my own less than professional manner.

    Victor, you may have convinced me. But I also might like to argue with the dictionary definition of hero.

    RH, he is damned good and very talented player who saved the day, but not a hero.

    Fen, you have simply put what I on on about. Famous person dies, almost public mourning.

  11. Yes well you're ignoring Boys Own with spiffing tales of derring-do among native blighters in the Far East, and damned good play on the rugger field. Topping!

    I recall only the ending of a western movie I saw when I was a boy. There was a scene where a couple were locked in a room and the bloke got them out by chipping away at the stone wall with a small knife. Then there's a gap in my memory of it and they're sitting at the edge of a veranda as the posse rides up. The Sheriff says something nice about the bloke's actions, but the bloke looks down, shakes his head. "It's the business," he replies, "just the business."

  12. RH, I read a lot of Boys Own type books as a kid. Surprising what you can learn from them. Not keen on Westerns though.