My Two Cents: Wanted: Modern Heroes The Jakarta Post | Sun, 07/17/2011 7:00 AM

We learned at school that heroes are those that died in their fights against Dutch colonials or in the war of independence. But now, the definition of a hero has seen some changes. The title is now given to those who serve wider society.

I have my daily life’s heroes spread across my hometown, Malang. They could be in the bus station, wet market and gas station. Nevertheless, all of them bear five characteristics of modern heroes.

First, the heroes serve society in a sincere way. They are not working in front of the camera. They don’t question what the nation could give to them but what they can give to the nation. They are ready to help out, neither asking for financial nor political benefits in exchange for their deeds because they believe God will always provide for them.

Second, when they are given the responsibility to govern this country, they will show integrity and honesty. They don’t abuse the facility provided with people’s taxes for their personal interests. They are doing their jobs with merit and they are always fair in taking decisions. They prioritize public concern over personal interests.

Third, real modern heroes are people who care about others. When they volunteer in natural disaster mitigation efforts, they are ready around the clock. They are giving back to society, providing scholarships to the poor and sometimes even working capital to create jobs. They are always keen to transfer their knowledge to marginalized people, helping them learn the skills to earn a better living. They don’t necessarily always have money, but they always come up with fresh ideas on finding solutions to problems in daily life.

Fourth, modern heroes also inspire others to become better people. They don’t just talk about it, they do it. They are the living examples of what heroes are like for the younger generation. When they’re gone, others will remember them as people who made their lives worth living. They will be remembered for their unrelenting passion, similar to Michelangelo’s passion for painting or Isaac Newton’s for his inventions.

Last, but not least, modern heroes are consistent in carrying out their deeds. And they don’t stop there. When they provide jobs, they also provide job training and counseling for the beneficiaries. They are the ones who not only build shelters for natural disaster victims, but also reconstruct sociocultural affairs in the disaster-struck society, although finishing it may take a great deal of time.

The five characteristics of modern heroes are actually the traits of a leader that our society currently needs. We need more people who serve the majority, who are honest and pursue their tasks well, respect others and themselves, and are an inspiration to others. In the final equation, they perform good deeds continuously; and not just for the benefit of leaders. All of us should try to assume these characteristics in our lives, regardless of whether or not people call us modern day heroes.

Ferril Irham Muzaki
University of Malang

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