• Tanweer Dar


Some people say you should never meet your heroes (as you'll only be disappointed), and yet others don't think we should have them at all. Whatever your opinion on the matter, heroes and heroism have certainly been brought to the forefront of discussion in recent times, be they fictional or in the real world.

With the ubiquitous nature of social media, the cult of celebrity is certainly stronger than ever. Whether lionising individuals or cancelling them, the masses seem keen to build up and knock down heroes in equal measure. In entertainment, too, fictional superheroes have seen an enormous resurgence. Clearly they represent something that people want, or perhaps even need.

Alongside contemporary, historical and mythical heroes of fame, there exist a great many unsung heroes who perhaps have a more profound impact on our lives. From our parents and carers and friends to our teachers and doctors, from nurses and firefighters to journalists and activists, from those who work with the most vulnerable to the most vulnerable themselves, who survive and struggle and succeed against all of the odds - there are innumerable sources of inspiration on our doorstep.

So, what really makes a hero?

Of the people that participated in a poll I carried out on Twitter, 60% said that they had heroes and 40% said that they didn't. Some commented on their heroes. They ranged from Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela to Elon Musk and parents. One which stood out to me was:

Everyone who sees someone more vulnerable than them and sees an opportunity to help not to exploit.

There were also those who explained why they didn't have heroes:

There are and have been amazing people on this planet. I admire them for their deeds and for standing against injustice. I doubt they'd want the title 'Hero'. They were doing what was necessary in their eyes at the time. The word 'Hero' is misused far too often.

I suppose that heroism, like beauty, lies in the eyes of the beholder. One person's hero may not seem worthy to another.

Personally, I do have heroes. But I try to remember, above all else, that they are only human. In some ways this makes them all the more heroic, but it also serves as a reminder that they are flawed and imperfect and, in essence, just like the rest of us. That is both inspiring as well as grounding.

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