The term ‘hero’ today means something vastly different from what it meant back in the era of the Ancient Greeks (think Hercules) or – if you don’t fancy stretching your mind back that far – even not so long ago, in the era of my parents or grandparents. My grandmother’s hero was her mother; my grandfather’s his father; my aunty’s her father. In fact, even my hero growing up (and I think it’s safe to say my sister’s also) was my aunty. All a far cry from today’s Shane Warnes, Lady Gagas and Justin Biebers don’t you think?
image by Ben Northern
The values that ‘hero’ encompassed prior to the Facebook-Twitter-Myspace revolution were far more primitive and real than those that it encompasses today. Mobile phones were scarce or even non existent, and the internet was still a far off thought way, way, way in the back of someone’s mind (I know, can you imagine?). And so, all my grandmother’s and mother’s generations had to model themselves on and look up to, were the other people who they knew and saw frequently; the people who they were surrounded with. Their heroes were people of a similar calibre (and life form!) to them.
Yes, of course television and radio existed, as did vinyl and later cassette tapes and CDs but, that was the extent of it – those things existed and were accessible but not as readily as they are now – especially for my grandparents’ generation. Because of this, the focus of life was also different. Singers were the people who you’d listen to tending to their crops in the afternoon; actors those black and white silhouettes of elegance and grace that the entire family sat down to on a Friday night, and sportsmen your dad’s ‘mates’ that you watched make a few runs on a Saturday arvo. My parents, and their parents, looked up to real people who displayed real values. Honesty. Determination. Optimism. Courage. Faith. Humility. Those were the traits that attracted them to their ‘heroes’. Today, thanks to our materialistic, capitalistic, dripping-at-the-seams-with-glitter-glam-and-grossness world that we live in, things (unfortunately, I think) are enormously different…
Yesterday I stumbled across an interview from a few weeks back with Jennifer Byrne and Christos Tsiolkas. As a writer, he embodies everything that I strive to be, and the respect that I have for him and his craft is always abundant (though yes, respect is not a large / meaningful / great enough word). He’s humble, intelligent and, most importantly, aware. I’d love to say more, and could, but don’t want to detract from the interview itself. If you have a wee bit of time to yourself, sit down and watch it (click here). I decided to dedicate a post to it (yes, that’s what all that ‘hero’ talk was about) because it brought me right back down to earth and reminded me that a ‘hero’ is someone yes, who people admire, respect and perhaps even dote on, but not because they are attractive, sensational or can sing. Rather, they are who they are (a hero) because the have worked hard, generally succeeded at what they have set out to do and, when they have, they have acknowledged their success, taken it in their stride and moved on.
A hero keeps things real. Not way up there in the sky but here, right down here on the very ground that we too, walk on.
Who’s your hero? Why?
Happy viewing xx