Where Have All The Heroes Gone?

English: President George W. Bush shakes hands...

English: President George W. Bush shakes hands with Bono after the musician spoke Thursday morning, Feb. 2, 2006, during the National Prayer Breakfast. President Bush called the rock star a “doer” and a “good citizen of the world.” White House photo by Paul Morse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)











Is it my age, or is it the times we are in? I used to find it so easy to find public figures to admire, to look up to, in the past. Sure, there was always the assortment of venal politicians and marketers and financiers and so forth, but there were also lots of people aspiring to something better, selfless and for the greater good.

Showing my age, I was a follower of the Band-Aid phenomenon. I believed in that, long after studies and exposes suggested little of the money got to Africa, and even less did any good. At worst I thought it was well-intentioned naiveté, a glorious and somewhat Quixotic tilting at the windmills of fate.

I admired – pretty much worshipped if I am honest – people like Bono. He was a muse of mine for my early writing – his passion and his open-hearted spirituality were an inspiration to a young girl who loved to write but had little passionate experience to draw from. But now, where is Bono? Hob-nobbing with the financially and politically powerful?? Did he mean well when he started on that path, and could he really know, in any case? The ego is a seductive creature after all. And he’s not alone in this, the firebrand of youth burns so bright but so brief. And so how sad it is when it seems your idols truly have feet of clay.

Which led me to wonder, who is there now in the modern scene that inspires that sense of greater purposes? Of goodness, for goodness’ sake! Is there anything in the zeitgeist that isn’t about narcissism and greed? I’m out of touch – or at least I hope that’s what it is – so help me if you can. Where are the heroes now? Where are the humanitarians? Who is spreading a message of good and caring in the world?

I don’t want to think finer feeling is passé. Please tell me it isn’t so, please introduce me to your heroes, your idols, the ones in the public eye that make you want to stand and applaud, not shake your head and sadly turn away.

I know there are many day-to-day, private heroes – we all have them in our lives – and they are worthy beyond measure.  But we also need the ones on the public stage to carry that message more strongly and completely to the collective. And I find myself wondering, increasingly these days, where they have gone…..

Are we the era of greed and nihilism, or are there avatars for something greater and better? What do you think?

Cheers Helen V

About Helen

I'm drawn to blogging as a way to share ideas and consider what makes us who we are. Whether it's in our working life or our creativity, expression is a means to connect.
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26 Responses to Where Have All The Heroes Gone?

  1. tjtherien says:

    The last one of those music aid things I saw I watched Celine Dion cry a bunch of crocodile tears and say how much her heart went out to the children… she obviously left her wallet at home because she only donated $100,000 some would say that is a lot but the equivalent is me donating one penny… I’ve pretty much given up on their being heroes other than your average everyday sort.

    • Yes, I’m kind of at that point too though hoping someone can point me in the direction of some remaining saving graces, so to speak. There’s been a few good suggestions so far, so hopefully there is light at the end of this tunnel… 🙂 🙂

  2. ptero9 says:

    I sense that the heroes of today have become too insulated from the common folk and even though they think their hearts are in the right place, they don’t really have a vantage point in which to see the world the same way the common people do. Once you can buy your way out of accountability, you forget what it’s like to be at the mercy of the elements that make up and govern society.

    • That’s very wise…where do we go from there though – how do we link people with good intent and capacity with the information to make positive choices? And how do we know, ultimately, that what we think are the right choices actually are in any objective measure? Thanks so much for commenting, food for thought!! 🙂 🙂

      • ptero9 says:

        Good questions! If there’s any hope at all, I think it lies in the hearts of the people who are not so inulated. Getting the powers that be out of the way, or keeping them from doing the harm they do? I don’t know. It almost seems as if the increase in technology that allows us to know more, just invites them to flaunt their bad behavior and their over reaching for power even more!
        Sorry, no easy answers here!

      • I agree, no easy answers, but thank you so much for extending the conversation in such interesting directions! 🙂 🙂

      • ptero9 says:

        You’re welcome! Thank you for inviting the conversation and for the lovely poetic images that you offer here. 🙂

  3. I hear you AND at the same time, there are still some pretty impressive heroes out there. What about: Malala Yousafzai, Angelina Jolie, Wangaari Maathai, Edward Snowden…these are off the top of my head, but there are more if I spend some time really thinking on it. And, as the Hopi Prophecy says, ‘we are the ones we have been waiting for’. We all need to be heroes now… Blessings, Harula xxxxxx

  4. In many respects, you’re not “out of touch.” I do find the work that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been doing, globally, and continues to fund, significantly, to be honorable. Right now, they and their efforts top my list of admirable humans.

  5. syncnflow says:

    I keep hearing people say this lately. Not just here in America but in other places around the world. It seems to be a global crisis. I hope the new heroes will start coming out.

  6. You make some excellent points here Helen. I always get the feeling I am reading about heroes past tense. One of my heroes is Pema Chödrön her books on Buddhism have really helped me with self-acceptance =)

  7. Mike says:

    Take heart Helen, the fact that our heroes aren’t grabbing headlines is only that the media think them, and their subject, a bit jaded. Pictures of the stateless and starving don’t sell newspapers unless they’re connected to newsworthy dramatic (read, catastrophic) events. One of my heroes Bill Gates was in Hyderabad recently shopping for a bulk pharmaceutical supplier for vaccines but that only rated a minor mention in the business pages. My main man Mandela is sadly out of it but he will always inspire as one of my (recently shaky) heroes Barrack Obama said on his recent African fly-by. In spite of his persecution complex and copious oddities, the work of Julian Assange will one day benefit the whole world when transparency in government and related commerce becomes the norm – indeed greater transparency will wipe out the corruption that diluted the benefits of Band Aid that you refer to. At 84 Noam Chomsky is still writing and talking his brand of egalitarianism that is inspiring yet another generation to question governance and public policy, in particular the corporate greed that recently brought much of the developed world to its knees. Richard Dawkins and the recently late Christopher Hitchens showed the world how we can publicly debate subjects that were once taboo and have empowered many to think for themselves rather than becomes slaves to history. New heroes come along like Suu Kyi, Swat Valley teen Malala or the quieter ones who pick up their Nobel’s and retreat to their labs. My list is longer and continues in the same positive vein. The news is good Helen – bigger and better than it was when ( yes, naïve) Bob Geldof gave us our first kick in the pants.

    Oh, and Bono? He continues to do what he does second best. Here’s a link to him at TED in June talking about poverty in a way we have never heard before – sit back for ten precious minutes for some remarkable news (that apparently wasn’t ‘newsworthy’)

    • Thanks so much Mike – some real food for thought, and sustenance for reviving one’s belief!! I’ll check out the Bono talk – it would b nice to have something to re-establish him in my good opinion! 🙂 🙂

  8. Rowan Taw says:

    Given how much personal and other information we have access to about our modern “heros”, it can be easy to develop a jaded view. My own remedy is to view a “hero” as someone who inspires me to better action (putting aside what flaws there may have). One living hero of mine is the Dalai Lama (along with other Buddhist teachers I’ve met), but I have heros who are unknown too. On the other hand, my romantic side has “Atticus Finch” as one of the greatest heros of them all – possibly the only guy I would have considered having children with…but, oh, he’s Harper Lee’s fiction.

    • Thank you – yes literature can provide us some good examples, and I agree re the Dalai Lama. You are probably right that what has changed is not the key nature of public figures, but our access to information on all the sides to their natures…. 🙂

  9. the public stage is crowded with poseurs and imbeciles – my heroes are ever and always the first responders who sacrifice their safety for us

    • Very true, they are true heroes, but not celebrated or known. I long for both to be in the world, the responders to provide the deep fabric of goodness, and the public figures that can exemplify the best in us. 🙂

  10. The solution is simple Helen… you become famous (which with your debut novel on the market I’m sure you will) then you do good things and become a hero for others to look up to and emulate 🙂

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