So just what is a hero? Are they people with extra-ordinary abilities? Are they people who are willing to make sacrifices for the greater good? Are they people who pave the way for a better future for others at the cost of their own? Could they be all these and more?
Well, in our media alone, we have thousands of examples of what heroes are or what they should be. We have Darna and her alien stone (I’m surprised the idea of a chest-buster never occurred to her), Captain Barbel and Lastikman. In the real world, we have people like Manny Pacquiao whom the entire country looks up to, Jose Rizal whom we respect as the founder of our country’s intellectual movement and there are those who still favor the Aquino family despite the many criticisms leveled against them. Indeed, we almost never run out of heroes to turn to.
However, one is forced to wonder and ask, just how far do we expect these heroes to go for us. Even if they are indeed our heroes, we have to remember that they themselves have limits and can only do so much. Ultimately, it falls to us, the common people, to do what is right and improve our condition as a nation. Unfortunately, the fact that we hold in our hands the salvation of the nation is something that is oft overlooked or forgotten.
Related to one of my previous articles and a rehash of another, I think that one of the saddest facts about the Philippines is the fact that we are always looking for a hero. Of course, there’s nothing really wrong with searching for a person or persons who can save the country, the problem comes from the fact that just about everyone wants a hero to save them but do not want to do anything for themselves. Instead of striking out on their own and making something of themselves, many are comfortable with just sitting back and letting someone else do their dirty work. At the end of the day, nothing is done and people are stuck in square one when their “hero” is nowhere to be found.
Look people, while having a hero is good and all, I’d like to remind you of three facts:
You Can Be A Hero In Your Own Small Way
I remember that in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey I remember Gandalf telling Galadriel and Saruman that he chose Bilbo to accompany the dwarves because he thought that it was not only the big things that counted, but even the smallest of things also had an impact on great events. Indeed, I think that while the common citizen may seem small and insignificant, enough of them in cooperation with one another can change a country to a significant degree. People all too often forget that they too can participate in the saving the country from corruption, pollution and out-of-control poverty by doing what is right whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Unfortunately, this never seems to happen because of a few factors including the fact that some people rely on a “hero” too much. Instead of doing things for themselves, they expect their “hero” to do everything for them and solve all their problems while they do nothing. Then, when things don’t go according to plan or if things don’t turn out to be all that okay, these same people are quick to condemn their hero for not doing his or her job even if the people themselves contributed greatly to the deterioration of the situation.
I have mentioned in my first article here that small and seemingly insignificant actions can eventually lead to serious problems when done by enough people. The same can be said about the good things that we do. Even if throwing our trash in the right place, respecting others by getting in line and waiting our turn, not urinating on public places may be small and reporting crimes we see may not be anything like Pacquiao’s victories, but they help make our country a cleaner, safer and happier place.
We Can Achieve A Lot Through Cooperation
Cooperation is all too often understated in the Philippines. Related to the above, we as a people can achieve a lot if we just learn to work together for the common good. One man or one woman can only do so much regardless of how rich or powerful they are. In order for a cause to be truly triumphant, we must learn to work together towards it, not just rely on one person to do all the work for us.
Stories where one hero manages to change everything is just a petty fantasy if you ask me. Real and dynamic change can be started by one person, but it is the people who follow in his footsteps that truly make a difference. Mahatma Gandhi might have been a truly wise and selfless man but it was how the people of India chose to support his cause that they won the day. Oskar Schindler was a true philanthropist in all senses of the word but it was how some of his friends chose to do what was right in a time of tyranny and brutality. A hero is, at best a rallying cry for people, but it falls to those who follow them to make sure that the cause they established is achieved and bears fruit.
We Need To Ditch Our Procastination
A foreign friend once told me that one of our worst practices as a people is our penchant for saying “bahala na” and “puwede na iyan”. It has also been noted that while we may often call ourselves “Christians”, we often have a skewed view of Christianity. Indeed, there are those of us who treat God more like a fairy Who is there to grant our wishes instead of working or fighting for our prayers.
It is often our tendency to leave everything to fate instead of taking responsibility that essentially doom our nation to further squalor and misery. Unless we come to understand the seriousness of our situation, then I can assure you that even an army of heroes can’t save our country from the pit of despair it’s falling into.