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We can be heroes.
Stewart Mandy

What is a hero? The dictionary defines a hero as a person noted for his or her special achievements, in other words, someone to be admired for his achievements and someone to aspire to become. Who are these heroes? Ask a hundred people, and you will get a hundred different answers. There are heroes from ancient history, who, depending on your point of view may include Genghis Khan, Tutankhamun, the Prophet Mohammed, or Jesus Christ. More recent historical heroes may include Christopher Columbus, Magellan, Galileo, Simon Bólívar, Rubén Darío, and Oliver Cromwell. Who is considered a hero is very much dependant on your point of view; the political heroes of the 20th century are a perfect example. Depending on your ideology, you hero may be Winston Churchill or Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin or Ronald Reagan, General Galtieri or Margaret Thatcher, John F. Kennedy, or Fidel Castro.

Who are the modern day heroes? Again, it depends who you ask. They may be politicians, pop singers, movie or sports stars. An American teenage girl may list Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake. Her brother may include Michael Jordan, Ben Affleck, and Vin Diesel. On the other side of the world, if you ask a Palestinian teenager living in the occupied territories the same question, and the answer may initially seem shocking. He is likely to include the latest suicide bomber, or even Osama bin Laden in his list. Another world, and another culture, and we should not dismiss such points of view without first asking ourselves why they would consider such figures as heroes.
Then, there are the superheroes. In cartoons, movies, and TV shows, they rescue us from monsters and demons. Who hasn't had a day when they would have welcomed the help of Spiderman or Wonder Woman?

Are heroes necessarily famous? Not at all. Some people will list parents, teachers, and friends. Teachers who take the time to make each day interesting for their students, and make them look forward to learning something new every time. Parents make the list on many occasions, mine most certainly among them, for allowing me to chart my own course in life, while being there to guide me when I needed it, and to pick me up when I fell. Many of my close friends are also my heroes, for all kinds of reasons. My work has given me the opportunity to have an international circle of friends, and wherever they are around the world, they inspire me more than most will ever realize. In Colombia, Romania, Honduras, and India, some lead difficult lives, maybe struggling to survive. They do whatever they can to provide for their families, and to try to improve their lives. Like those of us in the supposedly civilized world, their two steps forward are often followed by three steps back. Unlike us however, it can be very hard for them to recover from their setbacks. The fact that they never give up, and keep on fighting, makes them heroes in my eyes. Others have made it to America, following their dreams, arriving with barely a dollar in their pockets or six words of English in their heads. They work hard, sometimes at two or three jobs, learn English in their spare time, and send most of their hard earned money back home to their families. Heroes to their families without a doubt, and heroes to me.
Does the modern world need heroes? And who should they be? To the first, I would answer absolutely. And who should they be? We all have to make up our own minds as to who will be our heroes, and it is inevitable that celebrities, be they rock or sports stars will always make the lists of many. But when you have the chance, think of other, everyday people as heroes.

Look around you, and you will see them. And why not try to be one yourself? Your friends, your children, your friends' children. They all need heroes, and without a doubt some of them admire you. Think of this as time passes, and do things worth admiring. Be a mentor, a teacher, or a great friend. It doesn't take money, and it doesn't take fame. We can indeed all be heroes

.© Stewart Mandy 2003

About the author: Stewart Mandy is an accomplished international freelance correspondent and travel writer, and a member of Agora International Press Corps. He has been published in various print and online publications, on a wide variety of topics including travel, hospitality, industry specific topics, and current affairs. He is always available for worldwide assignment, and all offers and story ideas will be considered. He can be reached by email at or via his website at

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