Friday, July 20, 2007

The Complete Hero London Projections take place from 4 - 10 November 2009. Complete Hero explores and celebrates contemporary ideas of heroism with contributions from men and women of the Household Division, from the public, and from writers, thinkers and performers.

The project is the new public art work from Martin Firrell (‘London's most prolific public artist' International Herald Tribune).

The Guards’ Chapel – destroyed in WW2 during Sunday morning worship in 1944 and rebuilt in 1963 – makes a poignant backdrop for this exploration of the meaning and value of heroism in our lives.

November’s projections onto the Chapel's exterior will present text, lighting effects that honour the Chapel's modernist architecture, and video interview extracts. The Complete Hero projections will be free for all to view and represent an historic first: the first collaboration between a public artist and the historic Guards’ Chapel site where the first service was held in 1838.

Below, you can contribute your own ideas about heroism, its meaning and importance to our times, to help inspire the final form of the 2009 London Projections.

430 comments:

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Denise Gary said...

I have been touched by three heroes recently; three extraordinary men who didn't know they were impacting my life by their quietly heroic actions. They live their lives as heroes without knowing it. They don't just talk about kindness and compassion, they live it as a natural action. It is as if they breathe these qualities. And through it, they better the lives of others, unaware of what they have done. One day, I hope to better the lives of others as my heroes did for me...without knowing it. Because what could be better than a world filled with men and women who breathe kindness and compassion as a natural action rather than a conscious action.

Vicky-Rae said...

With Martin Firrell's Hero project currently in the media, our crew decided to ask the public to mention the first thing that pops in their heads when they hear or see the word "hero".

This is the best answer we've recieved so far: “Anyone can be a hero. My image of a hero is someone who places the well being and caring for others above their own needs. Someone who willingly volunteers time, resources, is ethical and honest. Someone others admire, strive to be like and that they look up to. A hero gives much, knowing they may get back little in return. They sacrifice individual gain, keeping in mind the greater good.”

Others were listing members of society such as:

* Veterans
“Today, all of the service members putting their lives on the line for this country.
Retired Military so I have a heart felt opinion.”

"...part of our history whose job was never to keep our country free but to keep the world free. They understood that with the power in their hands that we could rule the world we live in, yet they chose to defend others and allow them to live as they saw fit."

* Mothers and relatives
"A loving mother (or father) is irreplacable in life. They do not take the hero label for they see themselves as doing what comes natural to them. They seek to love their children unconditionally and seek nothing in return for it. Even when some are shunned by their own children, they never remove that love in their heart for them. They are not heroes, but they certainly should be"


* Single parents
“A single mother striving EVERYDAY to be the best she can be AND making sure her children are the same way...............no BS, no excuses, just doing what NEEDS to be done while maintaining her DIGNITY!!!!”

"Never choosing the destination the paths of their lives have led them. They persevere in a world that seeks to destroy them from the inside out. A world that wants to judge them without stepping in their shoes. A world that cares not about their stories, but only about their ends. Single parents continue to fight through a barage of negative energy and influence their children to rise above such forms of hatred and create the wonderful people, the heroes, of tomorrow"

* Firefighters and other emergency personell
"Just another day at the office. They spend time with their co-workers. They go about the daily business. They live normal lives. They do this, until the alarm sounds. Much like the mild mannered Clark Kent who leaves the mundane world of a desk job behind to put on his uniform and seek to save those in peril, these mild mannered blue collared workers leave behind their jobs to take up their own uniforms and seek to rescue those in peril. These men and women leave their jobs behind and go to perform their duty. A duty that they chose not as heroes, but as fellow human beings"

Debbie Brown said...

Heroes can come from the most unlikely places. I recently suffered a personal loss and I found the strength and the support I needed from some people I have never met. They carried me through the storm with compassion and understanding. I will never have the words to thank them. They gave me a precious gift. They showed me that there is still good in the world…there is still love. They are my heroes.

Brenda Sorensen said...

It is up to every human being in today's society to raise our future generations with the knowledge of what a true HERO is. Not what others preceive a HERO to be, but what qualities and attributes are found in a true HERO. As a mother of 3 boys and 1 girl it is my responsibility to show them that love, respect and care for others is the ULTIMATE reward in life. What better way to show them than to lead by example.

We could (and should) all strive to be the kind of
HERO we want our children to be!

Paula Christie said...

Heroes can be found in everyday places, they are the people who inspire you to live life to the full and be the best person you can be. They live peacefully and hope that someday we will all join them. They see the good in all repecting others values and beliefs and show compassion in all their actions.

BrewBunny said...

A hero is someone who realizes that true power is measured not by what you can destroy but by what you can protect.

Nancy Hummer said...

Heroes stand up for what is right. They are the voices for those who don't have one. They are the eyes for those who can't see. And they give strength to many who don't have any left.

As I look inside myself, I know I need to do my best to display heroic behavior. I am a mother and a teacher; and I play an important part in raising our next generation . The Hero project has generated a much needed discussion in my community and I hope the conversation never ends.

As I look around, I see that I am surrounded by some amazing women. They take much needed action in many areas. If it is getting a child to read, or raising money for a charity; they are leaders and use their intelligence to make changes. They stand up for what is right and teach me much about friendship.

Thank you my friends.......
....and Thank You Martin.

-Spacey

Jessi Clark-White said...

Strength without force
Thought before action


Concepts that are so right, so beautiful, that they have haunted me ever since my first glimpse of Hero. When I try to write about heroes and heroism, I have so much to say. But Martin’s gift with words renders most everything I write down irrelevant when I realize that in a simple sentence, he has summed up everything I try to convey in my rambling paragraphs.

Strength without force – those three words sum up so much about the qualities I most admire in a person. The greatest strength and nobility comes in having power, and still choosing to act with compassion and kindness.

I love and admire a very violent fictional hero: Firefly’s captain Malcolm Reynolds, also portrayed by Nathan. I wouldn’t change Mal for the world, and I wouldn’t for one minute look at any man who has faced violence and fought for good as any less of a hero because of it. A huge measure of strength and courage is the willingness to face violence, and quite often the only way to do that is to meet force with force. So, believing these things, why does Hero ring so deeply true to me?

Because strength, love, and compassion are at the root of true heroism. These are possibly the finest qualities of humanity. I want to see them taken seriously as heroic qualities. I want to live in a world where the cynics are wrong.

The line "where kindness is seen as a greater expression of strength than cruelty," has been bothering me. It's a beautiful statement, but it seemed to be a given. I believe that kindness IS a greater expression of strength than cruelty.

I kept thinking, "What hero is cruel? And who actually sees a cruel man as anything but weak and despicable?" I though about Spider-Man and Mal, about numerous real-life heroes, and I was at a loss to see cruelty in any of them. Violence perhaps, but not cruelty. Isn't our very definition of a mainstream hero someone who battles evil and cruelty, someone standing up for what is good and right and refusing to cross that invisible line between right and wrong?

Then I thought about a popular television show, about a man named Jack Bauer. A man who acts with violence and sickening cruelty at every turn, yet is hailed as a hero....because - hey, he saved LA, right? If our society is at a point where we can accept a man like that as one of the good guys, if ends really have begun to justify the means in our eyes, we desperately need a wake-up call like Hero.

We have somehow become a society, perhaps even a world, where in order to prove our potential strength and heroism, we display our willingness and ability to use force. But what is force when it is not truly needed? It's violence. It's cruelty. It's an abomination.

Heroes are who we turn to for safety. We look to them to protect us, and trust them to embody the ethics of kindness and compassion. They are the goodness we long for. And somewhere deep down inside, most of us want to be heroes ourselves. Men are born with a noble gift: the drive to be protectors, and the strength of body and spirit to do so. They are born to be heroes. Maybe one day, more of them will live their destiny.

Finally, I want to point to someone as an example of your new breed of hero. The face of your project, Nathan Fillion. I am unabashedly (well, maybe a little abashedly!) a fan of his; so much so that the woman who had never given a darn about meeting any celebrity and never even considered attending a sci-fi convention took her first vacation in years to attend a little thing called Flanvention 2 in order to meet him.

They cancelled it. Took the money and ran, as a matter of fact, leaving 300 very sad and angry people sitting in a hotel in Burbank. Into that crowd walked Nathan Fillion. Unpaid. Unprotected. He simply showed up, bearing a box of gifts from his house, and subjected himself to an applauding, screaming, flashbulb-wielding mob out of sheer kindness.

I cried myself to sleep that night. It was the first time I had ever cried because I was so deeply touched by the actions of other people. Nathan, the other actors, and the California Browncoats didn't even do this for their friends: they did it for strangers. I was one of those strangers, and I've been trying for almost a year now to convey in writing on one message board or another just how deeply affecting that experience was.

Later that weekend, a party was arranged at La Cantina, and a number of the cast members attended. Nathan and the other actors were sitting at a table where they had some slight protection from the crowd, and said table was surrounded by a solid wall of people. Even an ordinary, non-celebrity couldn't move without bumping into someone else, and if you wanted to go anywhere you had to wiggle your way slowly through the crowd.

Nathan Fillion walked into that and started talking to his fans, one by one. That was an act of sheer kindness and heroism. It can't have been easy, pleasant, or even safe to put himself at the mercy of that crowd, and he did it for strangers. Nobody paid him to do it. Nobody expected it of him. He just did it. Meeting him under those circumstances was one of the most special moments of my life; it meant so much more knowing he was doing this as a gift to us and not because a convention was paying him to. To brave that crowd simply to give us all what we wanted so badly was a true example of kindness being an expression of great strength.

A group of people called the California Browncoats stepped up and made a convention happen out of thin air. They were strangers to most of us, they stood to receive no financial gain, and they had no responsibility for what had happened. They stood up and told us they were going to take care of us, and they did. They made a convention appear out of thin air, literally overnight. They worked around the clock to organize what became one of the most special events any of us had ever been a part of, and when it was over, they thanked us for our trust. It was a deeply emotional moment.

They are all heroes. The California Browncoats. Adam Baldwin, Alan Tudyk, Ron Glass, Morena Baccarin, Tim Minear, Greg Edmonson, Jonanthan Woodward, Mark Sheppard, Christina Hendricks, Claire Kramer, Michael Muhoney, and probably others I will feel embarrassed for forgetting tomorrow. All people who put time, effort, kindness, courage, and trust into giving a group of strangers something they never dreamed could happen.

Before I went to that convention, Mal was my hero, and Nathan was a movie actor I liked and admired very much. Nathan became a real-life hero in my eyes because of the kindness and courage of his actions. He will be forever a very special person to me.

I went home deeply happy after that weekend; the extraordinary kindness of Nathan and so many others did the impossible for me; it restored a deeply broken faith in humanity. They are heroes.

Melissa said...

"I will be king
And you
You will be queen
Though nothing
Will drive them away
We can be Heroes
Just for one day
We can be us
Just for one day

I can remember
Standing
By the wall
And the guns
Shot above our heads
And we kissed
As though nothing could fall
And the shame
Was on the other side
Oh we can beat them
For ever and ever
Then we can be Heroes
Just for one day"


-David Bowie, Heroes

Tiffany Kern said...

Heroes inspire the disintegration of incredulity. Heroes create a reformation of indignation.

Bailey Sweet said...

One thing I can say about heroes is that from a teenagers stand point, I'm only 18, we are lacking. I remember when I was a child and finding a hero was so simple. You'd look at the television and any cartoon character was your hero and it changed week to week. Sometimes Daily. ONe day it was Barney and the next it was Batman. It was so simple when I was a child and now that I've grown up it isn't so much.

In the society we currently live in it is hard to find a hero. It is so easily miscontrued that a hero has to save a someone from a burning building. I do believe a hero has to be somewhat selfless, but a man working 2 jobs to support his wife and kis is heroic. A woman working late nights at a diner because he child needs medicine is heroic. My dad, a single parent is heroic. It can even go as small world as a person who waves to another on the street for no reason, but therefore makes that persons day.

I agree with Martin's words. The world is changing to fast for our own good. And in someway well most ways we are not ready for it, but we do need to prepare for it. Nathan is a great example of a hero. He is genuine, caring, intelligent, hard working.

I think Martin's work can show the world that a hero can be found in many places. I LOVE IT.

crazylady said...

I love this project. It is a topic worth contemplating; it is a discussion worth having. Even if I cannot add original words of my own, I can see the underlying truths that people are discovering by grappling with these questions. We KNOW what a hero is, but we've let popular culture hijack and corrupt the concept. We have to remember that "hero" is not the same thing as "celebrity", and to recall the difference between "fame" and "infamy." We must speak out against the media that thinks that just because someone is titillating, that they are worth idolizing. This project has the power to wake us up, to make us think, to inspire us to reclaim our heroes.

Debbie Brown said...

I am speechless. Martin you are so gifted. Okay people I am not very good at this so stay with me. I have NEVER been more proud to call you all my friends as I am right now. I saw many names I know as I watched and I smiled and shed a happy tear every time. You are all the most amazing people I know. You should all be very proud right now. The fact you are here...right now...reading this shows you believe in this and that is not something to be taken lightly.

I am so very blessed to call you all my friends, my sisters and brothers, my family. Martin, thank you.

Tiffany said...

While watching HERO 2, the phrase "might makes right" came to mind. So often in our world, "might" is associated with strength and power that are used negatively. Should I ever be lucky enough to have sons, I would like to show them that "might," "right," and being a "hero" lay not in beating another person down, but building another person up. That's why my hero is my grandfather; he lived his life raising three sons (to varying degrees of success), serving in the USAF until his retirement, and nurturing his sons and their families afterward. He always encouraged me to strive for more, to be my best, and to never let anyone beat me down, including my own father. I only wish he had lived long enough to know any children I might have.

Kelly Harker said...

We live in a world of ignorance. Our obsession with wealth and noteriety has made us a gluttonous society. We kill over greed, misunderstanding, and misplaced fear. Humanity has been corrupted by it's own selfishness.

Individualism is being held in low esteem while conformity is revered. Diversity should be valued, but instead is seen as a threat to our security and unity. The lack of empathy, knowledge, and respect for diversity can only lead to hate and animosity against those who are different from ourselves.

It is as though we are sleep walking through this life. Society is turning a deaf ear and blind eye to those suffering violence, oppression, discrimination, and injustice.

We have been conditioned to believe what we are told, and to not question our current reality.

Our reality has been socially constructed by the media,whose criteria is to infiltrate our homes with negative images, myths and stereotypes that contort the truth. The world is hiding behind a lie. It is our responsibility to seek the truth, and to refuse to adapt to a world that is spiraling out of control.

Children want to grow up and be what they see in the media. We are glorifying brutality, celebrity, and a false notion of beauty. HEROES in the media are portrayed as being physically strong or posess super-human abilities. Emphasis is placed on the physical and not the emotionality or spirit of the individual.

Every person is a potential hero to someone else. You don't have to have super powers or a fast car to be one.

Generosity.
Kindness.
Empathy.
Respect.
Courage.
Bravery.
Individuality.

A person who possses any one of these qualities is a Hero. They are my Hero.

The world needs to wake up from its coma and start standing tall. We need to stand tall together.

It's time to open our hearts. It's time to be a voice for those without. It's time to make a change.

It's time to be a HERO.

-Kelly Harker (Kitchener, Ontario. Canada)

Josie Goggin said...

A hero is not someone who seeks out attention and recognition but rather someone in the background of everyday life who offers love, compassion and support without a second thought.

miranda said...

I have never been so impressed as i was when i saw this project pop up online. the media and the tv networks think that they control us all. they remove wonderful tv shows about good values before they take off, and leave "reality" tv shows to run forever. and not one of those reality shows teaches us to act as real heroes. they teach us to be selfish.

I was moved to act when i saw that Jericho had been cancelled by CBS. the fans rallied and began to send nuts to CBS. Jeff from nutsonline.com saw the large number of orders through his online store going to CBS, and although he had not even watched the show, he came to the fans' aid. he threw himself wholeheartedly into the project, a new fan, yes, but our hero, for taking the time to care about the little people. not only did he help save the show for another season, but he took the opportunity to help others in need as well, hastily organising a relief fund for a tornado destroyed town.

i saw browncoats throwing so much of their time into cant stop the serenity last year that i had to step up and help. how could i not, when there were minds to change, people who needed my help? and i was amazed at the number of companies, and the cast that helped to make the events such a success.

i worry about our future as human beings. will our hunger for power and dominion over others destroy the planet, or will we look deep within ourselves and find the one true attribute that distinguishes us from every other species - Love.

Change within a society begins with one person speaking up. If we are to act as the noble species, then the truth of our plight will spread like wildfire.

Michele Gaze said...

Like Nathan, my Dad was always my hero. He was the best person I ever knew, and the greatest father anyone could have wished for. And yet, I chose the worst person to be my son's father, a violent man full of hate. But I didn't know at the time what he was really like. He made our lives hell for many years, long after I took my baby son and left him. I have raised my son alone for nearly sixteen years, I'm all he has. He's my hero because he, like me, has faced the violence, survived it, and come out the other side. No child should ever have to face what my son had to. He knows that violence is wrong and is not the answer to anything. I just wish he could have learned that lesson some other way.
Our government has a campaign going at the moment to reduce the incidence of domestic violence.
The tagline is: "To violence against women, Australia says NO."
This campaign, in conjunction with new police procedures is slowly having a positive effect on the domestic violence situation. It's about time too.
The collective voice of the people of the world must be heard, and the violence must stop.

Toby Thelin said...

Where do we go to learn to be men? There are only two places I know for sure: our fathers and television. All too often, both lead young men to the military, which may teach boys to be men, but more often than not produces borderline sociopaths. I turned my back on the military, possibly breaking my father's heart, but he is still my hero, and I have found other ways to win his approval, mainly by living a good and decent life. Television and the media in general has done little to change the perceptions of the masses in regard to "big" issues; that's not their job, their job is to keep the masses complacent. Only individuals brave enough to take a stand and make a statement, whether it be through the arts, social action, or just leading by example, can affect much-needed change in our society. I applaud this project.

meara282 said...

I have been blessed with all manner of heroes in my life. My grandma on my mom's side was the first woman in her family to earn a college degree, and she was on the first women's speech and debate team at Northwestern University. She graduated shortly before the Depression, and because she had a degree, she was able to work for the newly formed welfare department. She went to work as a social worker in the some of the slums in Chicago. From her, we move on to my mom, who worked with handicapped and retarded children. She made huge differences, helping kids to walk and talk, and to live their lives as normally as they could, and helping their families cope. I now teach at a community college, and I try every day to live up to their example, helping students achieve their goals.

Heroes know that individuals make the difference. If I can touch one student, that one student can touch someone else, and that someone can touch someone, and slowly but surely, we can make a difference. A student auditing my class works with prisoners. She expressed that she was having some trouble finding material to give them to read. I gave her a copy of Malcom X's "Coming to an Awareness of Language," in which he describes how he learned the power of language while in prison, simply by reading the dictionary. She gave it to her students, and then had them write me thank you letters. I got letters from 3 students, and each of them expressed how the piece had made him think and feel. If even one of those prisoners learns enough to keep him out of jail, then maybe he can pass that message on to the people in his life. They might become a hero for child, simply by giving that child a different view of life. It really struck me as I read those letters that it can be that simple. It should be that simple. To keep working for change is the greatest thing we can do with our lives.

Anonymous said...

Heroes are people who want to see behind every pattern, who choose to see not only an aspect, but the world as a whole, although this might cause them to struggle... Because they see all the wrong and know they alone can only change so little (or so much). Heroes don´t close their eyes facing new ideas or concepts. They think them through.

Anonymous said...

How can we breed heroes when our rites of passage have been reduced to receiving a driver's permit and reaching the drinking age?
We need to be aware of the stories we tell one another for they become a part of us.

Misha Impossible

Michele said...

If you treat a man as he is, he'll stay as he is, but if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be, and he could be, he will become the bigger and better man. - Goethe

Sabrina said...

I talked to my dad yesterday about my childhood and realized that he indeed IS my hero. He fought so hard to get custody of me and my brother. When he failed and was only allowed to see us for one weekend every month, it must have been so hard for him to watch us grow up with a violent stepfather and a mother who didn't care. Yet he never walked away. He never resorted to the kind of maniplation and agitation my mother and stepfather used against him. They managed to convince us he was the bad guy for a while, to the point where we didn't even want to visit him anymore. He still didn't walk away. He was always there for us. He's just a normal guy, but a hero nonetheless.

burrawang said...

What is a hero? Is it someone who occasionally makes grand financial gestures, or is it the person who, every day, does small things that make the people around them feel special and wanted, or even just makes them feel that they are remembered by someone out there in this huge world of ours? So often people are spoken of as communities, towns, cities and countries - we need to get back to considering the individual instead of the demographic, to see each person for what they are - a potential hero in the making. We all have the capacity to become a hero in some small way, but some of us have forgotten how, or have lost our way. It's up to the rest of us to show them.

Anonymous said...

Heroes are extraordinary. But the extraordinary must become the norm in order to vanquish this culture of hatred and violence.

Amy Young - Boston, MA - USA

Beth'll said...

I can think of no greater hero than the child who befriends an outcast. A child who risks his own reputation, who risks ridicule and hardship to reach out and care for someone that nobody else dares care about. A child who holds the power to change another's life.

A hero is someone who goes out of their way to make others a little happier, who doesn't consider their own needs first, who doesn't seek reward or praise for their efforts.

...and a hero is someone willing to help a stranger seek medical treatment in another country...

Ayoub said...

It is time for selfishness to become selflessness.

It is time for peace to be more powerful than war.

It is time for all 21st century heroes to stand, in silence, and be heard in the hearts of all.

This is the next stage of evolution. It is the discarding of violence, hatred, and all of the things that tie us to ages of darkness. This is the time where men and women step into the light as heroes.

crazylady said...

A hero is anyone who's willing to step up. From the smallest kindness to the risking of life and limb. Doesn't matter how small your scrap of the world is...make it better.

Samantha Payne said...

The leaders worth fallowing are the ones who get down on the level of the people he or she is commanding to better understand what needs to be done on all levels of work. The leaders who have a "greater than thou" attitude will often be left without respect.

crazylady said...

I don't see much discussion about the "gods" part of your project. Telling, isn't it? The thorniest topic of "Heroes" , the one most people won't touch. Is this audience openminded enough to discuss "gods" instead of "God"? Inherent in every religion I can think of, is the idea of membership -- dividing the world into us and them. As in: I know God, and you don't. I am saved and you are not. I am good and therefore, logically, you are evil.
I agree with Richard Dawkins when he says that moral judgement comes from within, not from without. Man doesn't derive his goodness from religion; rather, religious tenets describe what man deems to be good. But today's religions seem to me to be a horrific mash of politics, bureaucracy, and nationalism, laid one over the other throughout a long history. So I finally reach a place where I can't justify belonging to any church...where "disobedience is a moral duty," you might say.
People need to accept that everyone's God is a personal god, one that only that individual can answer to, and that THAT"S ALL RIGHT. Judge other people by their actions, not their affiliations. Tolerate differences; insist only on humane behavior.
Deep down, I have confidence that human beings are fighting to be better. Each in our own way, in our own lives, using our own talents. And that those individual efforts will gradually, incrementally, eventually, have global impact. That the Heroes we need will arise, to enlighten, inspire, and impel us where we need to go. Thank you for using your own talents and vision to make a better world a reality, and for inviting us all to play a part.

Anonymous said...

I am but a small voice, but I will spread the word, provoke thought, challenge.

Patricia said...

In the past we thought that heroes had to be ‘special’ in some way, to have something extra, some superhuman power.
But what we need now are everyday heroes – ordinary folk who strive at all times to be impeccable, to do their best, whatever their circumstances.
Integrity. Quiet strength for the protection of the weak. The courage to live one’s own truth, with tolerance and respect for other ways and other points of view. And love, love at all times for all people, especially when it is not returned.
Everyday heroes are a living example for the generations to come.

Angela said...

A hero is someone finds the strength in showing weakness.

Tiffany said...

When i was young, my father was an Air Force man. Quiet and dignified, he went about the business of war machines with a solemnity that prevented me from glorifying them. It's hard for me to look at a jet fighter without being afraid of what it stands for, and why we need it.

But my father's best lesson is not about fear. It's about agency. My father proves every day that life isn't ruled by determinism. No matter what your genetics say, no matter what your upbringing taught you, even if you were poor or abused or hurt or alone or afraid, you can still be a hero.

You can choose to rise above the fear and violence. You can choose to treat women with respect. You can choose to be faithful to your wife and children. You can choose to serve those around you. You can choose every day to live up to your own standard of greatness.

You can be gentle and unbowed. You can be strong, loving, free, and empowered. Like my father, like so many others, you can choose to be a hero.

Merrie said...

Martin,

At first, I am almost embarrassed to say, I was interested in this project only because Nathan Fillion was involved. But, as I started to research you and began to follow this Super Secret Thingy I became enlightened.
Not only have you become a very important voice to society, you have become an inspiration to my family.
While I still admit to a fierce crush on Nathan, you have made me realize how lucky I am to have my husband. Through stories and tales that we have all shared in regards to this project, I have realized that I am indeed fortunate to have a kind, gentle, fair, protective and indulging husband. I now know that not everyone has fared so well, and why I was chosen to be one of the lucky ones - I will forever question.
I have now begun to teach my girls to not stand for less, to expect more and demand kindness. I tell all who will listen that men do not have to be cruel to be kind. And, most of all, I talk. I have opened up to more people, about this topic, than I ever had.
You, and your work, have made me a prouder and more supportive wife and mother. I thank you for that gift.

Merrie White
a new, and fierce, fan of Martin Firrell

Kelly Harker said...

Humanity is flawed. Sometimes I fear that we won't survive. Do we deserve to survive? I scare myself with this dark thought.

In the powerful words of Joss Whedon: "Understand we'll go hand in hand, but we'll walk alone in fear".

It is only through community organization, advocacy, and action that can create a change. We're in a race against time for the survival of the human race. We are losing our humanity every day when we continue to discriminate, hate, and murder based on difference.

Humanity is losing.

Don't fear the unknown.

Don't fear the different.

Embrace diversity.

Kyle Harker said...

Being a Hero should not demand recognition, fame nor fortune. They need not wear a mask, nor have the ability to fly.

They are YOU. They are ME. They are Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers. They are, simply put, ordinary people who have the strength to be unselfish.

Hero. It's time to rewrite the definition.

Joe said...

Wow,

Many congratulations Martin on being catalyst and shepherd for the Hero project. I'm awed by the momentum, depth and truth of feeling that appears in the comments and contributions to part 2, and that it seems to be growing and solidifying in front of us all as we witness its development.

Words like "viral" and "organic" don't quite do it justice, neither does "democratic". Yes, it's a "meme" with tremendous resonance for lots of people, but there's also the sense that whilst we recognize it and relate to the frustration and sense of injustice behind it, we are also changing it, building it and carrying it with us as we become part of it.

Perhaps that's how legends grow...

Joe ST

Anonymous said...

What is a hero?....a hero to me comes in many faces. The child who wipes the tears from his mothers face and lifts her up out of her deepest despair to notice the face of an angel here on earth sent to her from God.... a stranger sharing a warm and sincere smile with a street person when no amount of pocket change could equal the amount of happiness they received in that one glance.....the person who has happy thoughts and wishes for someone other than themselves....the old man who digs in his pocket for his last change to put into a candy machine for a child he just met.... anyone who makes a positive change in the lives of others - the selfless act of love and kindness conquers all things evil, makes all things possible and brings peace to this earth... we all have good within us...we are all hero's

Anonymous said...

What is a hero?....a hero to me comes in many faces. The child who wipes the tears from his mothers face and lifts her up out of her deepest despair to notice the face of an angel here on earth sent to her from God.... a stranger sharing a warm and sincere smile with a street person when no amount of pocket change could equal the amount of happiness they received in that one glance.....the person who has happy thoughts and wishes for someone other than themselves....the old man who digs in his pocket for his last change to put into a candy machine for a child he just met.... anyone who makes a positive change in the lives of others - the selfless act of love and kindness conquers all things evil, makes all things possible and brings peace to this earth... we all have good within us...we are all hero's

andrea said...

I can't agree more with all the definitions of a hero my predecessors said.
But the thing that mostly was tossing and turning in my mind after watching Hero 1 was the part about male role models in an ever faster changing society/world.
We don't have to talk about the differences between men and women. But the changes in attitude that occured in the last 50 years are groundbreaking.
When I think about my grandfathers - who are two of my heroes - I also can't help but wonder how they would react to a project like this. Both grew up with the classic notion that showing emotions is a sign of weakness. Still, I think, in the end, they would like it.
Men have a harder time adjusting to a new model of masculinity because they did not directly experience the changes women went through because women first had to create an awareness for their causes. Change didn't happen with or because of men, it happened to them. The general attitudes about what is considered manly changed with that - profoundly. And suddenly, today's men are confronted with a new position in society and different attitudes towards what constitutes a man while they still might grow up with totally different picture.
And although we women sometimes pride ourselves in being a step ahaed of the men we still sometimes expect our husbands, fathers, friends, boyfriends, sons and brothers to act consistent with both - the old and the new role. I think this might be a little too much at times.
It will simply take time to change what has always been seen as manly behavior, like using violence when in reality feeling helpless, being in control of everything and thus exerting force etc. It may take a little while for men to realize they can let got sometimes. They might even like it. The world will not end if they do.
This project, plus the men in my life who are not afraid of showing their so-called feminine sides, are making me pretty confident that it may take time but that in the end, the while it will take might be a short while!
Thank you!

Ed R said...

A hero is an ordinary person doing extraordinary things, for the benefit of all.

brandigoddess said...

wow you know what? i feel for the first time in my life that i might be able to make a change in the world! and i have wanted to do that since i could remember! all the years of living in foster-care and haveing no one to love or to take care of me i always thought i could grow up to change the world so that we could all have someone to look up to that would come through for us all the time! well i feel like i am apart of something that finally will make the world a better place for all kids! i speak for the foster care kids and all the lil ones who dont know what love is like. If they could only look at Martin's art and learn that Nathan is someone they could grow-up to be like then if we help one kid grow up to be better i think we really did change the world!
Brandi Kerr

Anonymous said...

Heroism would be the result of a more true and noble society that we have thus far failed to build. It is at least partly our fault.
As long as ignorance reigns, parents abuse, money is valued over empathy and intelligence and human virtue, our government will mirror this, and we will remain in the muck.
The real life heroes I have seen are those who fly independence in the face of the mob, those who defy and question and demand change to the status quo, and prove it by living the ideals that they know are for the peaceful benefit of all.

Talk is cheap; nay, talk is FREE. You have to strut.
And this is where we falter, in blaming the masses, the media, society. It is in YOU to make change, to set example, and support the efforts of others. Sometimes, it is to help the weak and sick, or to listen to the lone voice that sees what the majority cannot. But behind greed, silence and acceptance are our greatest foes, what prevent our society from being heroic.
And heroism need not be in great deeds. It can be as great as the inferno you brave, or as small as the photograph you pluck from it. Its greatness is not measured by media coverage, because it is not in doing the impossible, but in doing what no one else will because he is ignorant and afraid. It is allowing freedom to the man you hate, allowing others their beliefs without force. It is putting aside what your indoctrination urges you to do, what your natural instinct commands, so that you can be purely humane, if only for a moment. Long enough to think for yourself and ask how you would be treated, were you in that man's place. Though onlookers gasp, it is helping a snake across a road, compassion across two people, then a family. It is seeing that your life is a color in the whole, and so can change it.

It is a burden too great for either gender to shoulder alone, but men's souls drive them to try, and that is what makes them great: That they feel they must. So it is on us to give them kindness, trust, and a reason to.

Men will do these things, but only for love. With doubt and unkindness, we destroy them and any better beyond they would make.

It is not that a man holds a gun. It is WHY he does.

Martha Dwyer said...

I just saw SST2. I tell you my eyes started to tear up. It was an honor to be included in your project and participate in something as important as this.

I was with my brother and his two sons (my nephews are 10 and 5) this weekend and I noticed, thanks to you, how my brother was behaving toward them. He was very attentive and didn't raise his voice in anger even when they needed a correction. There is genuine love and affection between them

That's how the next generation needs to be raised. This is in contrast to how

Recent events in the US (Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was accused of fighting and cruelly killing poorly performing dogs) make me so mad. The fact that his team and sponsors haven't dropped him from the roster and canceled his endorsement contracts make me ill.

Of course he hasn't been convicted yet, but the fact he is still held up by some as a hero makes my blood boil. He is a very good example of what you and Nathan Fillion are trying to compete with and I hope with all my heart that all of us together can make a difference.

Sabrina said...

Heroes dont accept the way the world is, They live how the world should be..and show others what it can be...

Sarah said...

My brother has always been outside of the “normal” male experience. He’s artistic, intelligent, damaged, and courageous. Our childhood was mostly shaped by neglect, but sometimes also brutality. We plowed our way through it, but it’s left its mark on us both. Sometimes I feel that, although I may have suffered more abuse, I was able to recover more successfully because it’s okay for women to talk about their past… To admit they feel weak and drained and afraid, and through those admissions gain strength and support. My brother never had that, so he’s held these things in his heart until it’s damaged him both professionally and personally. I wish I could help him. I wish I could open him up to a different way of dealing with his pain and fear, and I still have hope that I will. So when my son was born, I decided to name him after my brother. I want to give my son all of the love and support that my brother didn’t get. I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful partner who is patient and kind and had the advantage of a truly loving and supportive father. I think, between the two of us, our son has a real chance. I want him to discover who he is and what he wants outside of the current guidelines for masculinity and be a new kind of man―one who is reaching out to discover the full measure of the human potential for intelligence, compassion, strength, and love. My son has been my greatest gift; this is the gift I want to give back. For my brother and for all the other guys who never had a fair chance.

Sarah said...

My brother has always been outside of the “normal” male experience. He’s artistic, intelligent, damaged, and courageous. Our childhood was mostly shaped by neglect, but sometimes also brutality. We plowed our way through it, but it’s left its mark on us both. Sometimes I feel that, although I may have suffered more abuse, I was able to recover more successfully because it’s okay for women to talk about their past… To admit they feel weak and drained and afraid, and through those admissions gain strength and support. My brother never had that, so he’s held these things in his heart until it’s damaged him both professionally and personally. I wish I could help him. I wish I could open him up to a different way of dealing with his pain and fear, and I still have hope that I will. So when my son was born, I decided to name him after my brother. I want to give my son all of the love and support that my brother didn’t get. I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful partner who is patient and kind and had the advantage of a truly loving and supportive father. I think, between the two of us, our son has a real chance. I want him to discover who he is and what he wants outside of the current guidelines for masculinity and be a new kind of man―one who is reaching out to discover the full measure of the human potential for intelligence, compassion, strength, and love. My son has been my greatest gift; this is the gift I want to give back. For my brother and for all the other guys who never had a fair chance.

Kris said...

Martin,
I just saw SST2. It is touching, thought-provoking, and inspiring.

The beauty of it, the art of it, is how you have reached out to people and they have reached out to you. The merging of your vision with the thoughts of individuals is wonderful.

Bigotry. Violence. Abuse. These things are capable of destroying us. They exist. And they result in everything from the public horror of war to the hidden atrocities in our own homes. How each of us choose to move forward through this life, especially in what we expect from our fathers, brothers, and sons, is what will determine where we are going in our human journey.

I believe in the human spirit. Humanity IS beautiful. Despite some ugly things. I see the beauty here, on this page. I see it in the moving responses people have. People are inspired to tell their story. To hope for better. To spread the word. To search for answers. To be better. To try.

We are evolving. But it takes effort. Effort to keep the evolution moving in a positive direction.
It is this very type of public dialog, in all it’s visual and artistic glory, that can help send us in the right direction. Words are powerful, Martin! Thank you.

The future of heroes, gods, and icons.
Hold it to the light, redefine, and transform.
Change the world.
One voice, one individual, at a time.

I can be a better person, so long as I keep trying.

Kristin Cunningham, Madison, WI, USA

cbglacier said...

I am the mother of young sons; Hero is stating the words I need, words of inspiration, a plan. What I want for my sons, for their future and their contribution. I’m trying to make choices; school, media, lifestyle, for them now to shape who they will become and put them on a path to make a difference in our communities, small and large. It starts now, one day, one action, and one person at a time.

cbglacier said...

I am the mother of young sons; Hero is stating the words I need, words of inspiration, a plan. What I want for my sons, for their future and their contribution. I’m trying to make choices; school, media, lifestyle, for them now to shape who they will become and put them on a path to make a difference in our communities, small and large. It starts now, one day, one action, and one person at a time.

Anonymous said...

I have been very lucky to have a whole team of peewee football players to call my heroes. My son collasped at football practice and passed away in 2005. His teammates and coaches put aside their pain and focused on our family. They raised money for the funeral, the cheerleaders gave up their competition money they worked so hard to raise. These young men carried my sons casket with so much respect and love...it was an amazing sight. These children showed more compassion and concern then any adult I have ever encountered. These young people are awesome and give me hope for the future of humanity.

Pamela Dawn said...

Like others here, Nathan Fillion's words about his father in the second part of the "Hero" project, of course, made me think of mine. I can't say that I had the same experiences growing up with my father as he seems to have had. I'll just say that things weren't easy and leave it at. My thoughts have zeroed in on the very last words he said ever to me before he died back in '01: Life is hard.


"Life is hard."
It's an emotion that is as yet undefined that ran through me when he spoke those words. It kills me to think that this man, this flesh and blood man, eaten away to almost nothing by cancer, felt those words were the ones he needed to express in his last moments of life. No matter the hardships (yes, that's putting it lightly) he put me through, he was my father. I loved him. He broke my heart with those words.


"Life is hard."
It's a fact that he did live a hard life that started with him having an abusive, alcoholic father and progressed on to him becoming an abusive, alcoholic father. His life in between those two events, I can't find enough bravery inside myself to admit to anyone. Our lives after the latter event, is something bigger than me at the moment and I'm not going to get into it here. I just can't do it.


"Life is hard."
Viewing this second part of the "Hero" project has made me think: If one person in my father's life when he was growing up had treated him with kindness and love instead of anger and hate, what would his last words had been? If my grandfather could have been that one person that always had a gentle hand reached out for him to pull himself with, instead of the harsh one fisted in rage that he feared and cowered away from, would his last words still had been "Life is hard."? If my grandfather could have been the hero my father needed to be able to grow into the hero I needed when I was growing up, would my life be any different or better now? Would I be the better person I so desperately want to be?


I know none of this is eloquently put, but I hope it's at least clear enough for the emotions to be understood.

Enjolras14 said...

Some things that came to mind while watching SST2...

Here in Alaska, there are rural communities in which no females, of any age, have not been raped. (In fact, there are communities like this all over the world. You may live in or near one and not even know it.)

My brother was on the small side, very artistic, and verbally gifted growing up. He was beat up and bullied almost daily at school. One day he decided to fight back, and finally proved that he, too, could be aggressive. That day he stopped being threatened. But he also lost respect for himself. As an adult, now, he is a strong and healthy young man who hates aggressiveness. But why should he have been beaten as long as he chose non-violence? Why did the teachers and parents not step in? How could the "grown ups" allow this to go on?

My husband struggles every day to be a graceful and patient man in his blue-collar workplace, where violent or abusive behavior and language are the norm. He is my hero for every time he risks alienation by being kind and refusing to participate in the "testosterone games," though the consequences have sometimes been socially disastrous. Kindness among grown men should not have to be risky or rare behavior.

So many boys have a beautiful wild nature that needs space for non-violent expression. We need to teach our sons to climb trees, to build things, to run outside and play games, to get dirty and enjoy their freedom. We need to give them alternatives to pretending to shoot things and blow things up. We need to give them alternatives to sitting quietly in a school room for seven hours in a row.

Some of the men I admire most have experienced violence, addiction, and abuse -- and they have chosen to do whatever it takes to protect their partners and children from ever understanding what they've been through.

Boys need men to teach them to grow up. Of the children and teenagers I work with, I can count on one hand the number who have a single positive male role model in their lives. Even fewer are the children for whom that male role model is their real father. Men: whether you have your own children or not, be present and engaged in some other child's life. You may be the closest thing they ever see to a Hero.

Thank you, Martin, for this project.

Scott(y) said...

We take the idea of a hero for granted. Every story, every myth and epic tells us that no matter what, a hero will rise. This has only trained us to look around and hope that we'll be the first to spot the hero -- not realizing we may be the hero of this story. We have to stop being the audience and start being the participant.

Angie said...

How can people be expected to abide by certain laws/rules when the people who are supposed to be leading them don't lead by example? Someone needs to stand up and draw attention to the escalating violence all over the world, and by this I mean violence on all levels. Person against person and country against country. People need to rally together and point their fingers, and go "what the f***?" Sure, it's a small gesture when looked at on a global scale, but the small gestures add up. They become causes, which become revolutions, which become change… and we as a society need to change because the level of violence can only escalate so far before it detonates and everything we know comes crashing down around us….

Bawdy Wench said...

It simply amazes how many real Heroes we already have amongst within the myspace community. As I get to know those on my friends list I am humbled and proud to count them as friends. Single parents, those with a chronic illness, victims of abuse and yet every one still has the ability to laugh, to help a friend in need and to live their lives with grace and courage. Saving a life is heroic but more often it's the small singular moments that define a Hero. The little things that matter in unoticable ways. Helping a stranger, comforting a child, living your life to the fullest with grace and courage. Being thankful for every day. Inspiring others to do the same. Being brave enough to be who you are and not what society says you should be. Sharing promotes understanding and with understanding comes change.

Sugar Smith said...

Heroism is not about birthright, legacy, education, training, wealth, ego, power, physical strength, fame or genetics.

Heroism is about taking one selfless step to help another human being. The greatest heroes in history were not born heroes, they were ordinary people who started their life's journey with one small, compassionate step, and just kept walking.

My personal heroes are the hundreds of people who, over the years, have improved my autistic child's quality of life, and the friends who, by their support, have enabled me to be a better mother. None of them will ever realise their impact.

Mary Hutchinson said...

The greatest power on this earth is the power of emotion.

The greatest emotion of all is love.

To see the full power of love on the face of a man is the most beautiful and heroic of visions I have seen.

Mary Hutchinson, Highlands of Scotland

Anonymous said...

Heroes do the math...

Susan Mauro said...

My son Seth is my hero. He was born 15 weeks premature at 1 pound and 10 ounces. I lost my first son due to a blood clotting disorder when I was eight months pregnant with him, his name was Garrison. Seth was a fighter from day 1. He was nicknamed little champ in the NICU where he was for 5 1/2 months. Over that time he had two life threatening emergency surgeries performed on him and 15 eye surgeries to save his vision. He is now 3 1/2 years old. A little delayed orally but all the teachers and therapists say he is very smart and just the sweetest thing they have ever seen. He is my hero. If I am every having a bad day (or what I would consider one) I look at him whith his I.V. scars from the nicu and his struggle to survive and I shut my mouth, thank god and move on.

Michelle Lee said...

We all need to readjust how we think and what we do. Stop for a minute and help someone, ask 'are you o'k' FEEL for someone. Inspire others with kindness, compassion and love. Remember to treat others with care and sincerity- you never know who will see and be inspired.
Be calm, be gentle, love, be loved, find joy and wonder in the smallest thing- and express that joy! cuddles make the world go round- my love to you all, continue to spread love and light through this increasingly dark world and all our children will be heroes, because a hero is one who brings light into our lives.

Sandi said...

We cannot expect men to change if women do not also change. We must teach our daughters to expect more, to value themselves, to value others. I see girls in high school, in junior high, hating each other for superficialities, hating themselves for physical characteristics that they cannot change. I see them accepting unacceptable behavior from boys because the girls believe it gives them value. I see these children grow up to continue this behavior, men using their strength of body instead of their strength of mind, women accepting that they are less because they are physically weaker. This doesn't stop because we say it "should." People learn what they are taught. Until we actively teach boys that dominating others is not acceptable, until we actively teach girls that they too have strength, we cannot expect society to change. We are afraid of getting too involved in the lives of other people's children. Our society has become one of isolation, one where interest in a child that is not your own is suspect. If the only person teaching a child how to behave is someone who doesn't know how to behave, how will the child ever know what's right?

It isn't just about violence. When a woman accepts that her interests have less value than her husband's, when she allows him to restrict her activities, when she hides her purchases to avoid his annoyance, it teaches her children that men have power and women do not. These things happen every day, and we overlook them because the people involved are "good." My uncle was an alcoholic. I don't believe I ever saw him sober when I was a child. He wasn't violent, but he was sloppy and rude and mean. About 15 years ago, he had health issues and his doctor told him to quit smoking and drinking - NOW - or he would be dead in a few months. My uncle quit. He developed interests in woodworking and in cooking. Without the alcohol, we discovered that he was a great guy. I love this man, especially because he had the strength to change his behavior. In that respect, he is a good role model for his grandson. And yet, my aunt cannot travel without his permission, cannot use common areas of the house for her interests, cannot purchase items without creating a story to make it acceptable to him. He is the only male role model in his grandson's life, and I see another little "benevolent" dictator being created.

We cannot change the big things, at least not alone. But every individual can change the little things, and that is where we should put our efforts. Change the behavior of one person, and you become a hero.

Anonymous said...

You can see it. Things are starting to crumble around the edges. There is a new brutality. A new indifference. An idea that compassion is weak. Violence has become spectacle. All social behaviour is learned. My father was a big man. He had big calloused hands. He smelled of smoke and hard work. He suffered no fool. In all my life he never raised a hand to me. He treated my mother with respect and taught us kids to do the same. I have a wife of my own now and try to treat her with the same honour and respect. I have seen many emotions in my wife's eyes over the years. I have caused many of them. But I have never seen fear of me in them. I hope I never do. I like the Hero project. My dad is my hero. Any male can be a father but it takes a real man, a man of great kindness, love and patience to be a Dad.

LeeAnn said...

MARTIN, YOU ARE ONE OF MY HEROS. I am very impressed with the heros project and greatly appreciate you bringing it to light. When I was married to an abusive man, it was not really something that was talked about. It was very shameful. If I had only known about you ten years ago. Thank you.

Suze Bolduc said...

What would happen if we stopped looking outside ourselves for heroes and started trying to be heroes instead?

We seek outside ourselves for the things we most need: love, esteem, honor, heroes. Yet these things have no meaning unless they are truly part of us. No one can give them to us, we must first find them within ourselves. Then share that gift with others to make it real for all.

Sue said...

Someone who gives unconditionally, not expecting nor wanting reward or regonition is a true hero.

angel39 said...

im very touched, and pleased to share my comment with others, my mom is my hero, my mom has raised 3 of us on her for 19 years she gave up things she sacirficed things in her life to raise us my mom is 40 years old, we love her with all our hearts, we as children have watch our my go to work work 8 hours somtimes even more be toatally wore out, and she still found time for us to be with us, we have watched our mom go thur life with out nothing just so we could have we watched her cry we watched her,go thru a relationship of five years of being abused her nose has been broken twice , she has been black and blue all over she has been in the hospital but thru it all and everything in her life she has been there for us my two brothers and i she has sacrificed her life so you could have a life she is my hero, and we love her. heidi r. ogden clearfield pa usa

Jen said...

You know how when most kids introduce their parents to people they only have one or two things to say? 'My dad's name is Bob, and he's an accountant.' 'My Dad's name is Jim, and he likes to go fishing.'

Here's mine:

"My Dad? His name is Gerry and he's the head of Microbiology and Immunology at Nova Scotia's top university. He's a world renowned cancer research scientist, and travels all across the globe speaking to people about the imprtance of researching the illness. He's been the head of NCIC, and the Terry Fox Cancer Research Foundation. Oh, and in his spare time he wins endurance races with his horse, plays drums in an award winning rythym and blues band, and does the best Jack Nicholson impersenation in the whole entire world."

And he's still the funniest fellow I've ever met. INSANELY busy with all his obligations, yet never missed anything I did growing up. Was in charge of hundreds of people's futures, yet never failed to make time for me whenever I needed him.

It's a line from M*A*S*H that I think about when it comes to him. Winchester turns to Hawkeye and says "Even with all the priviledges I grew up with, I still envy you. I grew up with a father. You....have a DAD."

A subtle difference, but an important one.

Susan Stanton said...

My heroes have always been larger than life, but not for the reasons that you might think. It's true that as a child I fed my imagination on colorful tales of magical beings and oddly dressed characters with "super-human" powers; in my heart of hearts I wanted to be different, special, and super just like they were, but I knew very well the difference between fantasy and reality.

As a small child, my heroes saved the world.

My favorite comic book heroes were the tortured ones. Set apart from the rest of humanity by virtue of their difference, yet choosing to act on the behalf of those who hated them. I knew that I would never have powers like theirs, but they taught me just the same. A hero helps those who cannot help themselves--because he can, and because often there is no one else. A hero does not accept monetary reward for his actions because that would sully them, tarnish his gifts and make him no better than those against whom he contested. A hero is always alone, hiding behind a secret identity because if anyone found out who he really was, he would no longer be able to keep safe those whom he loved.

My favorite heroes from literature were the same and more. Often they were forced to follow the lonely, unrewarding path of the hero because the circumstances of their lives had given them no other choice. Their desire to return to a "normal" life informed every act of salvation, every risk; the reward for which they longed--freedom from their heroic responsibility. From them I learned that the path you must follow in life is preordained, and nothing you do, good works or otherwise, can every change that.

Television and movies did nothing but reinforce this. Over and over I saw the hero of the tale arrive "just in the nick of time", save the day, then disappear before anyone could get close to him. My favorites were the science fiction shows. Anything, no matter how far-fetched, could happen, and often did. I learned to suspend my disbelief. I learned to predict nothing and expect everything. I learned that, even hundreds and thousands of years into the future, the path of mankind would be plagued by violence. By war. By misunderstanding. And the line between fantasy and reality started to blur.

Every conflict my heroes encountered was solved with violence. Sometimes because they were attacked first, sometimes because they intervened when someone else was attacked, sometimes because they wanted to prevent an attack before it could happen. I learned that killing was hard but forgivable, as long as it was in self-defense. I learned that heroes have a responsibility to intervene in the lives of others, whether or not those people asked for help. I learned that being trained to fight; hand-to-hand, with weapons, with machines, even with the power of my mind alone, was essential to the job. How can a hero protect if he does not possess the skill to destroy?

As I grew older I looked at the world around me and realized that it was the same. Problems were solved with violence and aggression. My country's military forces seemed to be everywhere in the world were there was war. We were there to protect the weak, to teach them to think like us, to act like us, to govern like us. News stories featuring death were always given prominence in the evening news, while stories celebrating life were relegated to the end of the broadcast, usually introduced with the words, "And finally..." Violence as a solution to violence was advertised all around me; violence as entertainment, as an art form, was celebrated enthusiastically by what seemed like a majority of my fellow humans.

But even as a small child I knew very well the difference between fantasy and reality. Even though it was buried in a mass of obfuscation and overshadowed by a mountain of diversion I found my truth and locked it in my heart and let it sustain me into adulthood.

The notion that violence can be battled with violence is pure fantasy.

Violence begets more violence.

A hero saves someone from violence by preventing it, not by reacting to it. And not by attacking first, but by using measures to create an environment wherein violence is impossible. A hero helps because he can, but the ability to help never rests solely upon an extraordinary power or ability but rather upon using our individual and very human gifts to their fullest extent. A hero is never afraid to stand up and say "This is what I did, follow my example." A hero is never afraid to ask for help. Above all else, a hero chooses his heroism, it does not choose him.

My heroes are my parents, who taught me to choose my role models based on what they did and not on how they looked or how much money they earned.
My Mom, who came and found me when I was five and got off the school bus at the wrong stop.
My Dad, who drove an hour to give me a ratchet set so that I could replace my own car headlights, then did it himself once he had arrived so that I could see how to do it properly.

My heroes are my friends, who I know will always be there for me.
Kerrie, who heard in my voice that I needed to come home without me having to say so, and showed up on my doorstep two days later in order to pack me up and move me--and then did all the driving from California to Oregon because I didn't have experience with big trucks.
Linda, who got up in the wee hours of the morning to speed to my side just to give me a hug when I needed it.

My heroes are those who put themselves in the line of fire to save others.
Oregon's National Guard 1042nd Medical Company (Air Ambulance) and other similar units which are responsible for medical evacuations and other rescues.
Firefighters, police officers, doctors, nurses; anyone who goes into a situation in order to save a life knowing that they might lose their own in the process.

Those who face their deaths with dignity.
My Grandmother, who greets every day in agonizing pain and with physical frailty, but gets up just the same and lives with joy and hope and positivity.
My best friend who, with chemicals pouring into his veins and radiation eating a hole into the side of his head and cancer racing with the doctors to see who would claim him first never talked about what he hadn't done, but rather about what he would do.

Those who have a background of horror, and rise above it, and more importantly, break the chain and never succumb to the temptation to treat others in the same way that they were treated.
Those who have the courage to stand up in front of the world and proclaim that a change must be made, and acknowledge the fact that change starts on an individual level.

Each one of us is a hero, and that is reality.

maiann good said...

'Heroism happens'. It just 'happens' to a person. Not because others will think highly of you. More that one will feel relieved of the anxiety when one sees something that needs to be done or someone that needs assistance. Heroism is avoiding saying "someone else will do that" and instead, just getting it done. Most heroes don't know they are about to be hero's. If people knew how one action might open up to be a lifetime of actions, they might get overwhelmed. Its generally one person just getting done what needs to be done, be it helping another, or even healing themselves. Merely because it's the 'right thing to do". Give your seat to the pregnant woman, pick up the trash in the gutter, plant something, learn something to teach something to someone else, do something for someone you love,etc...most importantly BE ALERT! Watch your world. LOOK AROUND YOU! If it's good, appreciate it..breathe it in...be thankful. If it's bad, what will you do? If you can't do it, do you know someone who can? Heroes don't walk away if they can't do something. They call in someone who can. Heroism is a team effort. No one can be a hero alone. Even those that pull through incredible odds are the first to say they could not have done it without _____. If you are a hero, who is/has helping/ed you? Every hero has a hero. Tell them so.

Kirsten said...

"The Hero is the one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by."

-Felix Adler

Bawdy Wench said...

I was reading the latest on Michael Vick and what I learned was disturbing. For anyone not familiar, Vick's is the QB for the Atlanta Falcons and was recently arrested for hosting dog fights at his home. This man takes pitbulls, forces them to fight to the death and reaps the money from betting. The dogs who fail to make the "cut" after being tested for potential are allegedly killed. Apparently Vick's doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. While the NFL has stated Vick's is innocent until proven guilty, is this the kind of role model we want for our sons? Someone who has no regard for life?

andrea said...

Open violence or violent behavior is just the top of the iceberg. Passive-aggressive behavior like intolerance and discrimination is far more common and, I fear, will be much harder to overcome because it touches the central fears of humans.
Intolerance is the fear of the unknown. Discrimination is the an excuse for simply not wanting to know.
Therefore, for me, any hero, god or icon must be somenone who, naturally, lets others be themselves, without judging. It's the central rule of living together in peace and if - and when - we achieve it, it will make us all heroes.

Karen Jansen said...

I've had lots of time to consider how to answer this. It's been about 40 years since my father was killed when he walked in on a robbery at the place where he worked, back when I was seven years old. In the years between all sorts of people have wandered through my life, from the police officers in the smaller community where I lived who always expressed their sorrow for their inability to do anything to bring the murderer to justice, the lady DA in my home town who pursued the case after it had lain dorment for 38 years, to my father's friends who never forgot their friendship and looked out for his family, to actual family who closed their doors and nursed their own hurts like a flag and a birthright, to the man who was finally brought to trial and cackled about aiming the gun as he died of cancer.

Giving and caring is heroic - heroism can't exist without it. Doing what needs to be done just because it is the right thing to do, because you couldn't imagine yourself without acting and not because it gives you attention or notoriety is heroic. The community I grew up in is heroic in that its individual members always looked out for my family, and my father was never forgotten, which is something I didn't realize or appreciate until moving away from it after college.

Thank you for allowing me to leave my comment here!

Delphine, France said...

My heroes are those Mongolian horsemen who are warm when you're cold, strong when you need muscles; as well as kind, good-humoured and ressourceful all the time, whithout condition.

Sue said...

Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share... being friends with someone is not an opportunity but a sweet responsibility.

A friend who is like that is my true Hero. In this world where it's 'you scratch my and I'll scratch yours' it take heroic strength to just accept the sweet responsibility of friendship.

Kyle Harker said...

I had asked a friend of mine to comment on what he thought of the HERO project. A little back story about him before I post his comments. He is a Bouncer. He is about 220lbs, shaved head, big beard and has tattoos. When you look at him you stereotype him right away. What you wouldnt know by looking at him is WHO HE IS. He volunteers his time at an elementary school assisting young children with learning disorders. He also volunteers his time at Family and Children Services helping kids there. He has a University Degree and is currently appling to become a teacher. He is one of 2 friends of mine who I would jump in front of a bullet for because I know he will and already has made a real difference in many..many peoples lives. He is a Hero.

(His comments below is quotations)

""Checked out the site you were talking about. Some of this is really good, and I agree that men who are not violent should certainly be celebrated more. However, I do not believe that the comments on the site, which seem to be presenting the "former" male image as brutish, barbaric, and not heroic as a gross insult to those men who have fought for our rights, and others' rights and continue to do so. To say that those soldiers fighting in Afghanistan against the Taliban are not Heroic or are not worthy of being considered Heroes is insulting to them and there friends and loved ones. The reality is we live in a world where some people perpetrate violence, for many reasons; religious, cultural, ideological. To not consider those who stand up and fight for themselves and for those incapable to defend themselves against these people, as anything but Heroes does not sit well with me.

I was raised to be a caring, compassionate individual, but also to always defend myself, and others, with violence as the last option, but as an option. I agree with this wholeheartedly, and if I am blessed with children of my own some day, I will teach them the same lessons my mother taught me, ones I still live by today:

"If someone hits you, hit them back."

"Never start a fight, but be the one to finish it if someone starts with you."

"Always stand up for yourself, your friends and your family."

I agree that many men are heroes:

An ambulance driver who does his job just because he wants to help is a hero.

A 65 year old man who has been a Foster Father for troubled youth for 35 years, because he knows those kids just need someone to love them and show them that they care, is a hero.

The teacher that changes their lesson plans, to accomodate ALL the kids in the class, even those with unique disabilities, so that all the children can feel included, is a Hero.

Someone who volunteers their time, because they honestly believe in their cause and want to make a difference, is a hero.

All of these non-violent people are heroes.

But there are people who are forced to use violence too that are heroes:

The Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan who are fighting against a regime that beileves if a women is seen in the company of a man not her relative or husband she should be stoned. Those that are fighting so that these women can live a normal life, afforded all the freedoms that they are entitled too as human beings, thats heroic. They risk everything, with the hope that they are making a difference. I would never take that away from them. It takes courage to risk your entire world for a stranger, someone you might never even meet. To judge that negatively, and to speak about these men as "brutes" actually made me feel ill. Those writing negatively about these men, would they have the courage to risk it all, for someone they would never meet? I don't know, but I don't think they really do either, and have no right to judge those who do.

I think with this project they must walk a fine line. I will always support a path of non-violence first, but I am also not afraid to use violence to defend those who cannot do it themselves.

I ask you, would these people writing negatively about soldiers, would they go to Darfur, to stop the slaughter occuring there, if we needed more soldiers? Or would they speak out against war and violence, without ever actually doing anything, while tens of thousands of people were dying monthly? I would go, because I understand that sometimes in this world you must meet violence with violence. I do not think it should ever be the first action taken, but sometimes it has to be the last.""

Me Again:
I am a huge supporter of the HERO cause and truly believe it is a great thing Martin has began and am proud to be a part of it.

I, as my frind does, believe it really is a thin line we walk when talking about violence. I have personally been in one fight in my whole life. It was when I was a kid and someone picked on me everyday when I walked home from school. One day I punched him right in the face. After that he didnt pick on me anymore. Did that make me a bad person or changed who I was? No. I havent been in a fight since nor want to, but would if the circumstances called for it.

I believe that this Hero project should be about expanding the word HERO not changing it. And should not be about attacking those who have to use violence for the greater good. I have a few frinds who have been to Afganistan. I was talking to one and asked him if he feels he had made a difference there and he told me yes. He feels that his presence in that country torn apart by war has been something he is pround of. Helping others who have been victims of tyrants. He is a Hero. You cannot judge a situation unless you have seen it first hand. He had told me about having to keep children at bay bacause the Taliban strap bombs to the childrens chests and send them towards the soliders.
Walking through villages hearing the cheers of the kids when seeing the soliders who are there to help them put tears in his eyes. He was pround of himself & I am pround of him. HE IS A BIG HERO IN MY BOOKS! It is your choice whether you support the war or not,(I personally support the fact they they are helping others) but you cant say they are not heroes just because they are required to use force.

I really hope one day war is a thing of the past. Why are we Black?, White?, Christian?, Muslim? Canadian? American? Asian?.. Why can't we just be Human? Why must we label everyone and everything.

This Hero project is like planting a seed. The different definitions of what a hero is and can be will grow and grow. But we cant forget about where that seed came from and remembering who we called heroes in the past.

I think I'm done for now.
Kyle

carissa nichols said...

In a Capitalistic society
Violence is supported, encouraged and accepted because it generates Profit.

I am no longer the kind of idealist who believes that removing profit equals destroying all violence.

But it may weaken the attraction(addiction) we suffer as a society and give us some small room for viable alternatives.

Anonymous said...

Living a life of peace and love and experiencing harmony with ALL those around should be and is my goal in life.

Kyle Harker said...

One more thing to add :)

I just wanted to say that I see my Dad as my biggest Hero. He has done nothing but support and love his family & has always been there. He is the greatest man I have ever known and I hope to someday become him... but still be me... you know what I mean..

P.S.
I hope I didnt sound angry in my last (ridiculously long) post. I didnt mean to at all. I'm really a very laid back, gets along with everyone kind of guy. I just get passionate about fighting for those who deserve to be fought for. Please stop throwing jello at me..lol

David said...

I agree with the concept that we need to be a people of peace and love. We should love each other regardless of skin, race or religion, or views. I seek that out in my life and home, but it's a struggle at times. Not so much physical violence, because I doubt I could hurt another human, but my mouth can be more violent than any physical force.

Anonymous said...

In modern America men find their role models in movies and TV. While Nathan Fillion has always struck me as a nice guy, I wonder whether his acting roles have contributed to the perpetuation of the violent hero ideal. Can we find exciting characters and stories that are not violent? Is it important? Would it compromise the art?

Kelly Harker said...

Belligerence is the dysfunction of Man.

Allow love to cleanse your heart and mind.

Seek serenity through music, art, and love.

You must first find peace from within.

Through self-awareness comes an appreciation for diversity.

Befriend those who are different without prejudice.

Look beyond skin colour, gender, age, sexual orientation, class, and religion to find the truth of the individual.

Eliminate hate by imparting kindness and advocating for fairness in equality.

There is an irrefutable defect in the human race, but we are also gifted with the capacity to love.

Use this gift to be a HERO.

Anonymous said...

What kind of world are we creating where to celebrate equality for women is to encourage them to emulate the brutish heroes we decry?

Agnieszka said...

Heroes? The ones who don't allow themselves to lose sense of decency. From day to day. In trivial matters and crucial ones. People like spectacular. But spectacular also tends to be violent or impressive but devoid of meaning. The meaning lies in small gestures that make the fabric of everyday life. It's not true that being as good as you can brings peace of mind. Real heroes have millions of doubts. Real heroism lies in vulnerability and sensitivity. Living without a shell needs all the courage in the world.

Kelly Harker said...

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world" (Nelson Mandela)

My husband and I have been in a hot debate over our friend's views about "necessary" violence. Many of these friends are in the Canadian military or who have jobs as Security Officers or are Bouncers at night clubs. I am a firm believer that violence should never be a "resort", and that through patience, understanding, forgiveness and love -violence is not necessary. My husband agrees with his friend (see previous blog comment from Kyle Harker) on his views about violence, but I still feel that it must be through education (education about diversity, our socialization process and the misconceptions that we are lead to believe, and education about alternative practices to violence) that will lead to peace and fairness in equality. Where did these values in humanity go? What happended to valuing family, forgiveness, patience, love, and kindness? War can never lead to peace or unity...only animosity and fear.

I applaud Nathan for his comments on HERO- striving to be a more patient person. Patience is a virtue that not everyone posesses. He is such a great man, and an inspiration. I hope his values will influence other men in the world.

Thank you Nathan and thank you Martin for educating our men about violence.

Kelly...x

nancherry said...

Hero-Mr.Huang

Who's Mr.Huang? What did he do? Why write about him?
I got 213,000 hits in google for 'Mr.Huang', even someone on IMDB. Actually, the one I am talking about is a special person to me, and i know he would never be on IMDB.
What's so special about him? What did he do? Why write about him?
Ok, could you please stop asking so many questions, and let me finish my blog?
Sorry, go ahead.
Here is a story about Mr.Huang, who once gave me so much help and support when I first started my job.
Oh, that Mr.Huang, I know who you are talking about, the one who can speak Japanese, English, Spanish, and Chinese? The tall guy who is the young heir to his father's business? Whose father died way early when he was only a kid?
Ah, since you know so much about Mr.Huang, do you want to tell the story instead of me?
Okay okay, I did not mean to interrupt, please go ahead.
Yes, that's the correct Mr.Huang I am talking about, but you already said so much about him, what am i supposed to say?
The special part, to you.
Right, he is very patient, and I am surprised not any other employee in the company could like him. so he is kinda alone, but i got to do a lot of work for him, since i was so unexperienced at the time, nobody would even train me, i need a lot of help. he was the boss, but also more like a trainer, i guess he could be the number one trainer if that company ever considered this dept. anyway, Mr.Huang showed me how to work step by step, from how to write a fax with correct greetings and endings, to visit the production line and explains to me how our stuff was manufactured in that big noisy plant.
Oh, you think he is special to you because he trained you! but he is the boss, he should do that for you, it's for his benefit in the future!
Well, I know, but no one after him had ever showed me so much details at work.
That's because you already knew the details.
yeah, because of him, he showed me how. Still, I am telling you, that's why he is special to me!
oh, that's right, go ahead.
okay, do not cut in anymore without my notice! No one would tell me and even write down red marks on my fax draft, with sometimes spelling corrections, even re-arrange the texts, yes, he should do that, but he does not need to spend so much time, teaching me how to do things perfectly, I think that's because he really believes that I can learn a lot...It's about trust, about work relationship, anyways, it means a lot to me! So, at least I could experience and believe someone nice out there at work place, who would help other new people...
I see, you need someone who gives you the clear signs...
Well, finally, you got it. yes, this is important to me! I would appreciate more if I got the clear signs, and I do not have much patience within me, so i need to see it somewhere, from him, I saw a lot. and that's special.
That's it? that's all it is about?
Well, if you push. here comes the ending, at the end of almost 5 years working there, i decided to leave!
What, he taught you everything, and you would not even work for him longer?
Yes, I was such an idiot at that time, I had some feelings, and I had some connections, and I was in the wrong page, I was not ...
Oh, you mean, you feel in love with him? this is natural, you were young, and he is helping you... and you mentioned he is tall?
...
hello?
...
hey? why not answer me?
...i m thinking...if you are right, what a stupid girl i was. but the thing is , i could not admit the feelings, and emotions, i had to keep it to myself.
I told you, DO NOT get personal with work relationship. was he single?
he had girlfriends. models.
see, that's why i told you, you two totally dnt' belong in the same world. he is in the beautiful group. and you? did you say you are a geek?
Thanks a lot for your comfort, i know that now. but at that time, i was lost. so i decided to leave, so that i can test out my feelings...
which is...?
which is none of your business.
ouch.
well, i dn't mean that, i think, it's a good thing and sad thing to leave that situation, so i sorted out something, and i felt i had more experience, with love, with feelings, with more working experience. and i could be more confident that it is me i can do all the work, not only because he is helping me...
why do i smell betrayal?
...
ha! gotcha!
how come everytime, i was in a deep wound , and you turned out to be nasty of all?
i never said i was nice!
ok, anyway, that's the special about, is , you leave someone, and still remebers that one, and there is no love, no affair, not even contacting, just pure missing, pure as the morning mist, before you could realize it, it's gone.
...
but it's still painful. sometimes. it could hurt.
...
hello? where are you?
oh, sorry, i was totally 'drunk' by those words.
thank you, i take it as compliment.
but, i dn't like to be drunk, i need to stay concious, i m in control!
no you are not.
yes i am.
no you are not.
yes, i am. i am the MIND. your MIND.
ok, since you are so grouchy, i m going to take a nap, come and play!
YEEPEE! a dream, my love!!!

Hels said...

The more I think about it the more the idea of parenting overwhelms me. I firmly believe that every little thing I do will have an impact on shaping my daughter's future personality, belief system, prejudices, interactions with others etc

Yet as a country we are giving over the responsibility of parenting our children to others. Nurseries/ childminders/ Nannies. Kind, caring folk but nonetheless people who do not have an emotional investment in the young they care for. Our children are having to learn 'survival of the fittest' strategies as babies as they compete for attention. Instead of being given the opportunity to feel safe and secure and the chance to bond we rip them away and thrust them into an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar carers. Their stress levels and the chemicals released in them because of stress, I believe, has an impact on their future behaviour.
I am of course not naive enough to believe that all people are in the financial position to stay home with their children. However, I firmly believe that a revision of our COLLECTIVE attitude towards the importance of parenting and a change in the way we view and treat our children, that enables parents to raise their children whilst learning about the impact early childhood experiences have on the young, will go a long way to create the gentle Hero whose strength is LOVE because of the love they always knew.

debbie v said...

My first heroes were in books. They inspired me and taught me the importance of honor and trust.
Shane, Atticus Finch, and The Virginian embodied strength of character and courage by doing the right thing knowing what the personal cost would be.

Then came the movies. A young girl dreams of love and family. So I looked for heroes that were more romantic and tragic, at times. To love deeply and yet give up that love for a greater cause struck me as very heroic.

As a woman going into adulthood, I found a man that I thought was smart, funny, and courageous. He is strong and short-tempered at times, but I have never seen him hit anyone. Never. He raised our son to be hard-working and honest. The girls my son associates with tell me he is kind and protective of them. All of them, not just the girlfriend.

Now, having raised my son, I see that my Dad and Mom were also a heroes. I understand that they took the time and care to raise my brother and myself to be good people. The times they went without new clothes so we could have them. The time when my Mom argued with my school over a bully and she was not a yelling person.

I also know that not everyone does this. Not everyone puts others first or considers the consequences of their actions. I am lucky. I have come full circle. I see Atticus in my parents, Shane in my husband and The Virginian in my son. And I am content.

deb v

Kyle Harker said...

I absolutly believe in non violence first and foremost & also believe that education is the best way for change. However, in extreme circumstances I believe violence can be justified as something good.
The example I used last night when talking to Kelly (my wife) was that if I came home and saw her being raped in our bed, I would more then likely beat that man senseless. I doubt she would look down on me for doing so. Thats where my stance was on the subject.

I would always try to find the verbal approach to any situation or even walk away unless that situation is so extreme that some sort of forceful act is required.

Kelly Harker said...

Kyle: But losing control of your emotions in say that kind of situation is a thin line to walk. If you killed that man, would you be able to live with yourself? Would you let your anger completely take you over, you lose yourself in it. With you "beating that man senseless", what does that show me? If I were to just face an extreme violent act such as rape, would the next thing I want to see really be you being violent yourself? I understand you are being gallant, and I understand you are only doing it out of love and protection for me, but using violence to fight violence is still not the answer. Forgiveness...using Strength without Force...perhaps there would be a different way for you to react. There has to be another way.

"Bawdy Wench" said...

Kyle, Kelly you both bring up valid points. Violence isn't a valid way to solve anything but if he found you being raped he would be compelled to use physical force to stop it. The rapist would never respond to anything else. However, the tricky part is how far will you go in that situation. Will you use enough force to simply save her from harm and then stop there or would you let your rage control your actions. Sometimes we have to use physical force in situations where our adversaries will only respond to force but it is our responsiblity to draw a line, one that we won't cross and to not let our anger override our humanity. Sometimes it's more heroic to be thrust into that situation and be able to handle it with minimal force and still maintain your humanity. I'm sure cops have to live with that burden all the time.

Kelly Harker said...

But maybe that way of thinking (...that sometimes you HAVE to use physical force because that's the only way people respond)... IS the problem. I'm not attacking you Bawdy or Kyle, I just like DEBATE. Getting people to talk and debate about ideas like these is part of our own education and helps to develop our own self-awareness. This helps to question our own values, opinions, and judgements. We need to be constantly re-assessing ourselves in order to find inconsistancies in our thinking, values, and belief system. Ex. would I use violence against someone who was threatening to kill me? I would like to think not. What would I really do? Be willing to do? Would I kill for someone?...NO. Would I sacrifice myself for someone I loved, or even for a stranger...YES. Those are two truths that I know.

Like Martin mentioned to me in a comment, Nelson Mandela suffered extreme injustice, hate, and prejudice but yet he never resorted to using violence as a means of retaliation. It takes an extraordinary person to suffer extreme injustice and not use violence as a means to an end. That's a HERO to me.

Siobhan Prigent said...

Ok, just to throw in my two pennies worth... I hate violence for the sake of violence. I hate it being used to try to take over people's countries. But if I saw someone being hurt, or attacked then probably the ONLY way I could stop it is to try to use what little physical strength I have. My vocal powers of persuaison are not all that strong so how the heck else would I help?

To say don't react in a violent way is very noble, but unrealistic. If someone tried to attack me, let it be known I would do EVERYTHING in my power to stop them.

Like I said, I hate hate hate violence, but in some circumstances it needs to be used as a means of self defence or to help someone else... but it is only used in this instance in our world in about 0.00000001% of the time!

Ed said...

Violence is not a tool, it's a condition, an environment, like rain or heat. It's often an expression, when used by an individual or small group, of general displeasure and it doesn't even have to be directed at its cause. Violence is cathartic to the human sprit at times. IT serves a purpose.
It's often misused and always misunderstood. Defending yourself from violence by any means necessary is not violence, it's a requirement if you don't wish to be a victim of violence. On an international level, violence is expressed through acts of war- the 9/11 attacks, the Darfur slaughters, the Holocaust from WWII. These acts of war cannot be stwopped by a peaceful sit-in without seriously increasing the numbers of war's vitcims, and that is not what we're looking for.
What I think the whole Hero project is about ( and Martin you can correct me if I'm wrong ) is the idea that one man can change himself, and change his legacy, and through this, change the nature of Mankind. Man's nature , throughout history, is to be Inhuman To Man, and the only way to change that is to change Mankind- one man at a time.
IT doesn't mean you shoudl siut there and let someone whaqck you over the head. It means you should defend yourself as fully aqs possible, because you are on a mission- to change Mankind. Unfortunately, your attacker is trying to change just a wee bit of Mankind too, in the opposite direction.
These things do happen.
Sorry if I'm unclear or incorrect in my assumption, and if you don't agree with me, well, that's ok too.

ChrisMarie said...

Peace can not come about without understanding. Most people do not have an understanding or respect for the actions of others. They don't want to know about the pain or suffering of our "enemies." Peace will not be realized until we as a people learn to accept without judgment, respect without cause, help without request, and love without return. The pen is mightier then the sword only when it's used with reason, and intelligence. That's what makes Martin so special, and his vision so unique. Look how he has brought us all together, and motivated us to stand up for a cause. His work is our sword, and his vision our shield. We have become his army, and his art has the ability to change the world.

Bawdy Wench said...

Angely mentioned that some people have said supporting the troops but not the violence is a contradiction. That's exactly the kind of thinking that comes from people who tell me it's unpatriotic to criticize the president and the war. Rain said it best "We support the troops, not their orders" It is not a contradiction, it is a moral obligation to support the sacrifices our troops make but not the violence that makes them necessary. Let me say this though, there is a marked difference between using physical force to defend and protect and violence perpetrated for it's own sake. It is tragic that there are still countries, tyrants, armies for which force is the only option for them and those who fight them. War cannot exist in a vacuum, it is fed by religion, poverty, starvation, disease, greed and prejudice. Until we can eliminate the very conditions that birth them, they will continue to be a necessary evil for the heroes and a motivator for the villains.

Kelly Harker said...

Bawdy: I have a friend going back to Afghanistan again. He almost was killed the first time he was there from "friendly fire". I don't support the war but I understand why he's going there. He's trying to make a difference, to make the world a better place. I respect that. I don't know if I would use violent means to defend myself in a situation where self-defence was required because I've not been in that kind situation.

My other friend who just got back from the war is my HERO, not because he was in the WAR, but because he joined wanting to make the world a better place, and because he saw what WAR really DID encompasses he didn't want to be a part of it anymore. I love him for for wanting to keep his family and friends safe, and his country safe...but I wish there was another way we could figure out how to do it. I'm not just talking about Canada or the USA, I'm talking about everyone on this planet. Advocay really does work, if we all stand together and let our voices be heard.

Anonymous said...

Hero - A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose.

That's all of us.

Heather Kay said...

I think true heroes are the people who perform selfless acts. People who do things to improve other people's quality of life but not for the accolade or the attention, but because they can.

The word 'hero' frequently gets used out of context. I suppose that’s why this project is such an amazing and clever idea, it gives people the chance to see what other people's definitions of the word are and might help them better understand why using the term hero too much can sometimes be just as bad as not using it enough.

I'm not trying to offend anyone here but I have to admit, when I read some people's profiles and see that under 'Heroes' they just have a long list of celebrities, it makes me sad. I understand people who 'admire' them for their work but I wouldn't call it heroic. I'm not trying to judge or belittle anyone with these comments. I just don't understand people who can call someone a hero because they have made a movie, written a book or sung a song; surely that's just idolizing an ideal of someone, not the actual person.

I have many heroes in my life. My family, friends and some people who I've only spent a very short amount of time with but that have really touched my life.

When my daughter asks me for the definition of a hero I'll probably tell her it's someone who is good, kind and who tries to make other people's lives better. It doesn't always have to be by doing huge dramatic actions; even the smallest gesture can have a life changing affect for someone.

I loved reading about everyone's very different definitions of heroes, thank you for letting me add mine.

Anonymous said...

A hero is someone who reassures people when they are fearful, lifts their voice in advocacy for complete strangers, and spends the vast majority of their time taking care of others. To put it more succinctly, nurses are heroes.

Sue said...

A hero can be of any age, any colour. A hero can be a man, woman or child.
A hero can be made in one act of compassion, or years of tender loving care. Some hero's are remembered, whilst many are left forgotten.

Kendra Jacklyn "Browncoat Angel" said...

I commend you for making such a bold project, and especially for seeking out Nathan Fillion to be the face of the new definition of “Hero”. If there ever was a man who exemplified what it means to be a true, caring, and compassionate human being it is Nathan.
I recently had the opportunity to meet Nathan in March of this year at San Francisco’s WonderCon convention. It was an opportunity of a lifetime that came from a chance drawing for a special plastic bracelet that only a few were fortunate enough to win. When I shook hands with Nathan and spoke with him, he did not disappoint in the slightest. He was just as eloquent and kind as I had seen in his interviews and public appearances. He is a man who knows how to treat women, and more than that, he is a man that knows how to treat fellow human beings. Words can not express how much meeting him meant to me. The only way that I can properly sum it up is to say that I wish he was my brother. I wish he was my family. But, in a way, he is. He and I are both part of the human family. And I am thankful for that.

Jen said...

*A quick recap for those of you who don't know....

Community HERO = Group of high school kids who saw HERO, were inspired, sorted themselves into three teams, and are spending the summer committing acts of random kindess*

*And now, a dose of HERO inspired positivity*

Here's a scary thought...

I, a girl who tends to repair household items by putting movie posters over the trouble spots, am leading my Community HERO team in their volunteering carpentry spree.

We're building a house. That's right, the kids of Community HERO, (and a heck of a lot of parents/actual people who know what the heck they're doing) have joined together to help construct an actual house for a local single mom and her two kids who lost everything in a fire.

So, Nathan (and Martin) be proud. Because of your inspiration, a young family will have a home to call their own.

-Jen

Kelly Harker said...

Who are the heroes of our world?

It is those people who strive to live their lives based on values that appeal to our best natures. Those who try to inspire through example, who dedicate their lives to helping others whose lives lack hope and future. Those who care about the world's children and ensuring them a future free of tyranny and oppression. Those who look beyond themselves and are inspired and determined to make the world better than it is now. These people- these idealists of the world, are the HEROES.

Many of us guide our lives by the values we learn from our family and friends. Many also may look to cultural icons such as celebrities or political leaders as role models. However, humanity has been corrupted by ignorance, gluttony, and arrogance.

We use our energy to promote ourselves as being "the best"... becoming a "walking advertisement" our all our successes. Life's objection has shifted from finding love and happiness to making money, accumulating material possessions, and aspiring to achieve the impossible ideaology of beauty and attractiveness. Unfortunately it is those who promote these ideals and values that have become the current role models to our children and to ourselves.

We need to change back towards idealism. We need a lifestyle where idealism is the core value. Those who apsire to live this kind of lifestyle are the true role models of the world. They care about the well being of the humanity, and speak out against injustice.

History reminds us of these such role models that have bettered mankind. Here are a few of my personal role models and heroes:

Nelson Mandela, who became a cultural icon after struggling against apartheid and rallying for freedom and equality.

Mahatma Gandhi, who led India to indepenence and through campaigns and protests of peaceful civil disobedience and non-violence, inspired movements of civil rights and freedoms throughout the world.

Abigail Adams, who was a prolific feminist writer and abolitionist who spoke out against slavery.

Carrie Chapman, who helped American women to achieve the right to vote in 1920, and was a leader of the women's sufferage movement.

Mary Wollstonecraft, who was one of the first liberal feminists, and wrote "A Vindication of the Rights of Women", which challenged Rousseau's ideas of female inferiority.

We need role models and heroes such as these, who are committed to helping better humanity. Who use non-violent measures to change the world. Who challenge the current ideology and replace our current hollow values with substantial ones. We need leaders who campaign for peace, justice, and equality. We need people to help guide us out of our selfish way of life, and learn to genuinely care about the well-being of others.

My present role model and hero is Martin Firrell. It is through his art that we are inspired and motivated to become better people. His talent, compassion, generosity, empathy, and philosophy of non-violence makes him my hero, and a hero to many others. Martin is urging us to "cast our sails against the wind" and live an idealistic lifestyle. I plan to follow his lead, and live a life that I am proud of, hoping to inspire and help others along the way, just as he has helped me.

Martin, you are an inspiration to us all, and show us that if we work together, we can change the world. Thank you.

Kel...x

Susan Stanton (Angely) said...

Every time I think about the contradiction between rejecting violence and saving people using violence my thoughts turn back to my parents. Why am I the person I am? Ultimately, it wasn't the comic books, the novels, the tv shows, the music, or the influence of any of my friends that shaped me. I was taught to be me. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of education. And that's really why we're all here participating in this project, isn't it? The more people who contribute, the more points of view that get shared, the more strangers who we come to know, whether or not we agree with their opinions; that is how we evoke change.

I can't honestly say that if my life depended upon me shooting a stranger that I wouldn't do it. I can't honestly say that if my Mom's life depended upon it, or my friends' lives; I can't honestly say that I wouldn't pull the trigger, no matter the cost to myself.

I can't honestly say that I wouldn't pull the trigger to save a stranger.

Better minds than mine have struggled with this for centuries. I guess the real difference now is that, thanks to the internet, more people can get to know one another and communicate with each other and learn to understand each other.

That's all I have off the top of my head.

Anonymous said...

Normally I don't get so personal on such a public forum, but I feel close to many of you, and so feel comfortable in sharing some private memories with you all. I was re-reading some of the comments left on this space, and felt the need to add my two cents on a personal level. I grew up on the lower east side of Manhattan, also known as Spanish Harlem, and both my parents were/are NYPD. Both have been injured in the line of duty, my mom stabbed, and my dad shot so I grew up with violence, and spent most of my childhood waiting for the call that one of my parents had "fallen in the line of duty." The worst moment of my life was the afternoon I got called over the PA to present to the principal's office. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. The slowness of the moment, as if time had stood still as Mr. Lopez told me my father had been shot, and was in intensive care. I remember being driven to St. Vincent's Hospital with a sense of detached numbness. I remember seeing my father plugged into so many tubes I couldn't recognize him. And I remember the hatred, and anger that filled me at the person who had dared hurt him. I wanted to find him, and hurt him - make him pay. But instead I cried because I was 11, and could do nothing. I remember the first conversation I had with my father the moment he was strong enough to speak. He looked at me, knew what I was thinking, and said, "Chris it's not my job to judge people for their actions, it's my job to bring them to justice." All I wanted to know was if he hated the man who had nearly killed him. I badgered him, until he told me "No I can't I promised to serve and protect. Even the perp who shot me. I don't know what brought him to that moment. I don't know what kind of childhood he had. All I know is that it's my responsibility to make him aware that his actions have a consequence." I was so angry until I realized he was right. We live in a violent world. Nothing will ever change that. Our role is to bring conscious to our inherent violent nature. I tell you all this so that you understand I don't take the word Hero lightly. I believe all survivors are Heroes, all people who put on a uniform in the name of justice are Heroes; I believe any man/woman/child who drops the stone in the name of tolerance is a Hero. I believe my father is a Hero. And I believe that all of you are Heroes. You have taken it upon yourself to open up a forum of tolerance, peace, and love. Once again Martin I thank you for bringing us together. I thank all of you who have become friends for allowing me to be a part of your everyday. To quote from a movie, "even though I've never met you, never kissed, or laughed with you... I love you." It's a good day when a good man takes action!

Regina Owen said...

My heroes have always been people who taught me something important about life or about myself. Sometimes it was their life and they way they lived it that inspired me. Sometimes it was a fleeting moment hardly remembered.

I've always admired Albert Einstein because he had such a thirst for knowledge and understanding. I learned that there isn't ever enough you can know about the world we live in. There are just new frontiers and new boundaries to cross.

Most people know Chuck Yeager as the first man to break the sound barrier. But he was a WWII veteran as well. Once while in occupied France, he and several fellow soldiers were trying to get to neutral territory. A German patrol found them and severely wounded a comrade in the knee. In order to save his life, Yeager had to amputate the leg and drag him several miles up a cold wet rainy mountainside to safety. I learned that there are times when you will have to make hard choices in life. Good men make those choices or people die.

I was a baseball fan at a very young age and watching Joe Rudi (Oakland baseball player) out in left field one day, I saw him reach over the left field wall and catch a ball that would otherwise have been a home run. He dropped to the ground, threw the ball to an infielder and kept all the runners from advancing a base. After the play, he raised his arm and there was a big bloody scrape down his forearm. They had to stop the game for a few moments and doctor his arm. But remembering the play, you would never know that he had hurt himself until he raised his arm. In that one moment, he taught me achieving goals would sometimes mean I'd have to put aside other needs and wants. Success would often times mean sacrifice.

Brian Downing is also a baseball player. Originally a catcher, with the addition of several new players to the California Angels, Downing was moved to left field. The first time he played there, he was awful. So awful, he got booed. But he loved baseball. It was his dream. He could not imagine himself doing anything else and being happy. So in the off-season, he studied and he worked on being a better outfielder. When the new season started and he took his position in left field for the first time, I could hear people booing him. I could hear people groan when the ball was hit to left field. Downing never wavered. He did his job, and in time, the booing stopped. Though Downing was never a gold glove outfielder, his horrible play in left is hardly remembered. He would also never be known as a great hitter, but I remember him as a man who fought for his dreams. Not for glory, but just to live a life, a simple life, fulfilling a dream.

Joss Whedon is another man who fought for a dream. He believed and never stopped believing. He never disappointed those that believed in him. Whedon proved to me that the impossible is waiting for the right person to come along and not give up.

The most important hero in my life is also the most difficult one for me to talk about, my dad. My dad embraced those things most important to him with his whole heart. He taught me that you get what you give to people. If you want respect, you give it. He was a man who loved laughter. My dad died as he lived, laughing and joking moments before he stopped breathing. He passed away last year and I miss him every day.

Too many of the men I've known in my life have left lasting impressions that are negative. One particular relationship, left me believing that I could never do anything right and sure in the belief that "no one ever promised me life would be fair." I've learned that words are a powerful tool and sometimes a more devastating weapon than a fist. They can inspire. They can give hope. They can also leave wounds no one can see.

We are all responsible for the lives we lead but we touch many people along way, just as many people touch us. Be responsible for that touch you leave on those you meet. You can never know what that one moment will mean to someone or the affect it will have on their lives.

Kaz said...

HERO has been welcomed by all walks of life from around the globe. It is so nice to see everyone joining together on this. Martin that is a huge achievement. Well done for making this happen. If it was not for your courage to speak up, write about and publicize what you believe in, this process of change to make a difference - would not be.

Heroes / Icons / Gods do have an influence on society today. Whether we are conscious of the fact or not - our heroes mould us into the people we are today. We all aspire to be like our heroes. I aspire to be like my heroes. They have taught me something very important. You do not need to have super human strength and magical powers to be a hero. Heroes are just everyday people. To me heroism is a selfless act unconsciously driven by a person’s inner strength... LOVE. This emotion can overpower anything. Everyday we come across a hero, but the majority of the time we just do not see them. Why? Maybe we all take these selfless acts of love for granted?

I was really honoured to have been part of HERO: part 2. It means a lot to me. The society we are living in today is deteriorating. My heroes have encouraged me to make my own decisions in life and to choose the path I want to follow - not to follow the crowd and be told what to do, in order to be accepted. I like to think the paths I decide on are the right way forward. HERO is the right way forward.

Love is the greatest strength known to man and with this comes other great attributes such as kindness. This needs to be recognized. It’s a shame, but I feel in society today, love is seen as a weakness. Hence, morals and values are deteriorating. This is what needs to be changed through HERO

“WE ALL NEED TO STAND TOGETHER ON THIS ONE”

Kaz. x

JustDevin said...

Strength of character and conviction will always be greater than steel and muscle.

Dawn Curl said...

Just a few of my thoughts on heroes. The first one has probably been said a million times already...

A world without heroes is a world without hope.

Striving to live as merely a decent human being can make a hero.

When we have leaders who can govern us with true compassion, patience, tolerance, and humility, I will call them heroes.

Miriam M. said...

in every one of us, a hero.

you need not speak great truths or philosophies.

instead, to live your life in honesty, true to you, your loved ones, and strangers equally.

walk in pride without hubris, faith without prejudice, share the earth you walk on realizing all are welcome to it and none should ever be denied.

recognize your humanity and flaw, the weakness in all others, knowing it is far harder to forgive flaws of yourself. but strive to anyway.

you'll be a parent, a sister, a firefighter, a teacher at camp, you'll be the one who sets an example for someone's hungry eyes to follow.

you'll inspire small change that multiplies across time and lives so that added up it becomes more than you ever intended and may be grander than you ever realized - and you may never know.

you may never know the person who shook your hand and saw the way you treated your mother inspired them to treat their own mother better. you may never know the person you spoke your mind to saw something in themselves they did not like and resolved to fix it.

everything you do, the world knows, in some small fashion, like those butterfly wings echoing from where you stand to some distant nation, the world will always know and remember what you do, even if the people in it beside you don't.

don't strive to be a hero but to be true, to be good, to be aware of your actions and how they affect others, to be aware of the consequences of your thoughts, words, and intentions, and to strive to make them all as positive as you can.

you are human. you are flawed. you can dream, create, and share. you need not give all of yourself, but what you choose to give must be worth giving, must include a love of self, or you might as well keep it to yourself.

you have love to give. even imperfect as you are, hard as it may sometimes be, the love you share must be open and generous, unselfish and free, and in that purity of feeling, the eyes that look back at you, be they a child's, a lover's, or a friend's are as touched by your heroism as you are by theirs.

in every one of us, a hero. live only to be the best human you can mold yourself to be in this lifetime, and all the rest will follow.

Lynne Haines said...

Women are over half the world's population. If we all had a vote, and we all voted for something, we would win that issue. But the women with the right to vote are still in a minority considering all the nations of women. But that's okay because we women with the rights also have money now. We have jobs and we are free to think for ourselves. And many of us are! A genuine evolutionary revolution has begun and we are on the cutting edge ladies.

Kristin said...

I couldn't agree more with the comment of Lynne H above. The suppression of women's voices, past and present, is a tragedy. One of the many sad effects has been the distortion of our definition of heroes. What can we do to change this?

*In walks Martin Firrell*

The FUTURE of gods, icons, and heroes will be a collaboration of women and men.

- Kristin C

Tracy Humphreys said...

I am awed and humbled by this project. The cynic in me doesn't believe that it can reach enough people's hearts to make a difference, yet the hopeful little girl inside me whispers, "try". Try to spread peace instead of war. Try to spread kindness rather than animosity. Try to believe in the inheriant good inside each one of us as human beings, rather than judging others based on assumptions.

Today's world is moving so quickly, and it can sometimes seem as though everyone is just selfishly looking out for only themselves. The "bigger, better, faster" propaganda hurtles us toward unrest and pushes us to seek out that which would make us "better" than our neighbor.

How much happier we could all be if we would retrain ourselves to believe that compassion is better than intimidation, that tolerance and understanding are better than judgment and ridicule!

Tracy Humphreys, Collinsville, Illinois, USA

Lisa said...

Hi Martin,

I found this wonderful article about a young woman who's a triple amputee... I thought you might enjoy reading this beautiful story.


Dream defies loss of limbs

Kellie Lim, a triple amputee at 8, is now ready to graduate from medical school.

Kellie Lim knows all too well what it is like to be a very sick child.

Struck with a ravaging bacterial infection that destroys limbs, she became a triple amputee at age 8 and soon faced a life of prosthetics, wheelchairs and often-painful rehabilitation.

But from that suffering, Lim forged a life of achievement. On Friday, she will graduate from UCLA's medical school and then will begin a residency program at the medical center there.

Her chosen specialty? Pediatrics, with a possible concentration later on childhood allergies and infectious diseases.

"Just having that experience of being someone so sick and how devastating that can be — not just for me but for my family too — gives me a perspective that other people don't necessarily have," the 26-year-old Michigan native said recently.

And of all the topics she sampled during medical school, only her work with children left her "smiling at the end of the day."

Lim carried out her medical training with a determination that awed her professors and fellow students and won her the school's top prize for excellence in pediatrics.

Opting not to use a prosthetic arm, she showed that she can perform most medical procedures with one hand, including taking blood and administering injections. She lives on her own in a Westwood apartment with no special features for the handicapped and drives a car with only one adaptation: a turning knob on the steering wheel. She is learning to swim, is trying horseback riding and even went tandem skydiving recently.

Lim, whose legs were amputated about 6 inches below her knees, gave up her wheelchair years ago and walks so well down the long and crowded hospital hallways — with a slightly bouncy stride — that new classmates and patients often don't have a clue for weeks that artificial limbs fill her shoes and pant legs.

She reluctantly will accept a seat during hospital bedside rounds when painful ulcers erupt on the skin that touches her prosthetics. (She has undergone grafts and additional surgeries over the years to help with the fittings.)



Colleagues say Lim's calmness in a hospital's hectic environment puts others at ease.

"With Kellie, at first you notice her hand is not there. But after about five minutes, she is so comfortable and so competent that you take her at face value and don't ask questions so much. She has an aura of competence about her that you don't worry," said Dr. Elijah Wasson, who supervised Lim during a rotation in internal medicine at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar.

Lim attributes some of her gumption to her dreadful childhood bout of bacterial meningitis. The resulting toxic shock, with internal clotting and bleeding, wrecked her extremities, leading to the amputations. When she went back last year to the Michigan hospital to read her voluminous medical file, she found an evaluation stating that 8-year-old Kellie Lim had an 85% chance of dying of the meningitis.

Her parents urged her not to give up during her four months of hospitalization and the following years of rehabilitation. Just five months after she became sick, Lim returned to regular school in suburban Detroit.

Previously right-handed, she learned to write and do chores with her somewhat diminished left hand, having lost three fingertips on it to amputation, along with her entire right hand and forearm. She has been fitted with prosthetic arms, but does not wear one in public anymore and uses it at home just for rare tasks, such as assembling an IKEA desk by herself.

"I hate failing," she said. "It's one of those things that's so ingrained in me."

That view was intensified by another disability in the family. Her mother, Sandy, went blind in her 20s and, except for not driving, sought to continue as normal a life as possible in raising three children. She cooked, cleaned and walked the youngsters to school.

"She definitely was a great role model for me," Lim said. "It was hard for her to overcome her blindness, and I think she definitely instilled a strength in me."



Just before her mother's death three years ago, Lim promised her that she would finish medical school — a pledge she will fulfill when she and her UCLA classmates take the Hippocratic oath.

"She wanted me to be a pediatrician," Lim said, "and I know that somewhere out there, she knows I am going to be one."

Lim is a soft-spoken, gracious woman, but she can be fierce in resisting being typecast as a disabled doctor who should focus just on rehabilitation medicine. She also is reluctant to accept what she sees as unnecessary assistance, even if it sometimes takes her longer than others to get things done.

Neil Parker, senior associate dean of student affairs at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, recalled how Lim resisted some of his early efforts to adapt or substitute medical equipment for her. "I think at the beginning we were perhaps a little at odds because I wanted to help her a lot with what I felt she needed," he said. "She wanted me to help her, but only with what she was willing to use."

In some cases, that meant finding older equipment, such as blood pressure cuffs that seemed better for a one-handed person, or practicing IV insertions.

One hurdle involved percussing, the lung exam done by placing one hand on a patient's chest and using the other hand to tap on it. Parker suggested using a hand-held ultrasound machine, but Lim declined. Instead, Veterans Affairs experts in Westwood designed a short metal-and-plastic extender that Lim straps onto her residual limb to help with the tapping. It is not pretty, but it works fine.

Of course, Lim is not able to perform surgery or intubate a patient by herself. But those skills probably won't be needed much in her likely fields. "There are certain things she can't do, but there are a million things she can do," Parker said.



Lim was assigned, on her final medical school rotation, to the pediatric allergy and immunology division under the supervision of Dr. Robert L. Roberts. On a recent Monday afternoon, she did the preliminary interviews and examinations by herself, deftly taking notes, pointing a light into ears, listening to hearts with a stethoscope.

She made no attempt to hide the residual limb, which she skillfully maneuvered to hold down papers; following medical protocol, she briskly washed the right limb and her left hand before touching patients or instruments.

First came a 14-year-old boy, who despite severe asthma, allergies, nosebleeds and migraines wants to play more baseball. He displayed the closedmouthed shrugging of boys his age, but his concerned mother detailed his middle-of-the-night breathing emergencies. Lim soon spotted evidence in his nose of inflamed tissue and recent bleeding. After a consultation with Roberts, the youth was prescribed a trial of new asthma medicine.

The boy's mother, Karen St. Louis, said she and her family talked about the doctor during the drive home as a "phenomenal" role model: "The conversation was that you can do anything you put your mind to."

Lim's next patient that day was a heartbreaker: a 5-year-old girl born with severe immunodeficiencies and numerous other medical problems.

The tiny child, wearing a green pantsuit, white-and-pink sneakers and thick glasses, is not toilet trained and does not speak, though she seemed to understand what her mother told her in Spanish and English. Her parents, clearly devoted to her, worried about seizures she suffered during a recent vacation. The girl whimpered a bit while Lim examined her but did not resist. Roberts and Lim scheduled more testing.

With everything else going on, the girl's parents seemed almost oblivious to Lim's missing hand.

Out in the world, Lim's partial arm sometimes attracts odd comments and stares, but her patients have shown overtly negative reactions only a couple of times, she said. Some small children were frightened by it and had to be soothed. Lim said she knows that some parents may be wary of her and that she will have to prove her competence.

"I'm not going to force myself on them in any way, but it still affects me personally," she said. "It kind of wears you down a little bit."

Still, Lim clearly identifies with the struggles of families with very ill youngsters.



"It is amazing to see family dynamics like that," she said a few minutes after the girl left. "It's very tragic, but the parents love their kids and will do anything for them and know so much about them."

Her own parents, immigrants from China, loom large in her life. Besides stressing her mother's influence, she thanks her father, Norman, a chemical engineer who kept the family going — financially and emotionally — through its unusual burdens.

Lim also credits her older sister, Nellie, who was protective of her and supportive of her moves toward independence, such as attending college away from home, at Northwestern University in Illinois.

Nellie Lim, now an attorney in Michigan, recalls the family philosophy:

"It wouldn't do you any good to sit and cry about it. We just went on and kept doing what we had to do like any other family. You need to make dinner. Go to the basketball game. Go on vacation."



Kellie Lim recently completed the last assignments for her medical degree and took a four-day pre-graduation celebratory Mexican cruise with classmates.

And this spring she began taking swimming lessons at a public pool in Westwood, even though she had been afraid of the water. During a recent session, Lim took off her prosthetic legs and was lowered into the water on a mechanized chair.

At first, Lim relied on a blue Styrofoam "noodle" to help her float. Then her coach took it away so Lim could practice a dolphin-like propulsion that used her torso, her one full arm and the remnants of her legs to move up the lane with a force that had some other swimmers doing double takes. It was tough work, but most of the time Lim was smiling.


Source: Los Angeles Times

Robin--Cincinnati, Ohio said...

My father is my hero--not only for standing up for me against abuse, but also for weeping with me in my heartache. He never fought in a war or saved countless lives. He fought for me, though, and saved my life in a very quiet way. That is enough.

Hels said...

My daughter was required by our local education authority to attend school aged just 4. It saddened me to see how quickly my bright, creative, 'indivual' little girl became institutionalized. She began to worry about rules and fitting in.

It seems to me that we are training our children to become followers not innovators from the age of 4! All my personal heroes have bucked the trend and challenged stereotypes...perhaps we should rethink our approach to education to ensure the existence of free thinkers of the future.

Anonymous said...

I think that for a man, woman, or child to be a hero, all he or she really has to do is show good character at all times. Don't talk poorly about others, ever. Don't abuse your temper, ever. Be nice in traffic, always. Be generous with your chosen charities, always. It's these little day-to-day things that really add up, make heroes, and make the world a better place. If we all did these things, imagine how wonderful the world could be.

Jennifer Caress said...

This project is so beautifully done. This project gives me hope. After 7 years of hearing that the want and need for violence was the only patriotic way to think, I was exhausted from the rebellion I put up. But now, thanks to Martin, I am energized once more, and ready to continue with the rebellion, and ready to continue taking a stand against violence as a means to an end.

Anonymous said...

I want to lean away from watering the term hero down, because a hero should be extraordinary. For instance, you’ll hear people call single parents heroes. I'm not a hero because I'm a single mom; I just do what I have to do. My situation doesn't make me any better a parent or person then parents who are raising their children together. I have support. I'm not very strong--I could never do this alone. Some days I don't think I will make it. Many days I'm angry and bitter and want to stay in bed and cry. Does that sound like a hero? I wish I could word this better, but I’m tired of people thinking I’m doing something remarkable simply because I got a divorce and am raising a child. I’m the biggest mess of a person you’d ever meet, and if it were not for the fact that I am a single parent, not one person would think I’m anything. I do what I do because I love my child. I'm able to cope the support I get from my mom is enough to keep me going--she is my personal hero. Being a single parent doesn't make me someone to admire; rather, the people who support those of us who struggle with our situations and weaknesses are the true heroes.

Which brings me to my next point…we are living such an unnatural, isolated existence. Where has community gone? What happened to watching out for your neighbor, lending a hand, giving support? We plug into out iPods, keep our Bluetooths in our ears, and sit by ourselves in our cars as we drive to and from work. What happened to interaction? When society has let itself become so isolated, is it any surprise that we neglect the impoverished, the elderly, the mentally ill? I could not live without the support of my mother, and I wonder about those who have no support. How do they make it? Our whole society is geared to admiring strength and being disdainful of any weakness—if Oprah can pull herself out of poverty, why can’t everyone? If my uncle could stop using drugs, why can’t your cousin? If I was able to leave an abusive relationship, why can’t you? The truth is, not everyone is strong, and no one is strong 100% of the time. Our current society wants to brush these weaker people aside; they are contemptible and therefore disposable because they aren’t strong enough to help themselves. It’s the heroes that notice these people, and do what they can to help. The heroes don’t judge--they lift. I only wish that we as a society could overcome our fear of weakness and work together so that each of us could carry or be carried as needed. I can't imagine where I'd be without the support I have, and I ache for those who aren't as lucky as I've been.

Rachel W. said...

Heros are not perfect men. They are not without faults. They are men who know their faults and work on being better.
Compassion, love, patience, and laughter make a hero. Energy should be used to strenghten the mind and soul, not only the body.
Wars, with guns and words, fought today are over men who were heros--Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, and Martin Luther King, Jr. These men did not fight, kill, or maim, and yet we fight, kill and maim in their name. Have we gone mad?
Heros make us cry, shout out loud, clap, and sing. They are educators, doctors, managers, artists, historians, scientists, families, workers, and even some are actors. We will love them and nurture them with hearts and minds.

Jessica Horwood said...

From fist to helping hand
From holding down to holding with love and warmth
Means all the world to me

Jessica Horwood, Woodstock, Ontario, Canada

Laurie Peterson Castaldo said...

A random act of violence puts an end to a gentle life 78 years long. He was my hero, my father. Never lifted a hand or a gun. His voice small, his stature large. He supported us in the most natural and literal and loving ways. And although he lived outside our adult lives, he was within us. He still is.

Random acts of violence. As though nature had something to do with it. As though it were perfectly acceptable for its randomness.

SnowdropExplodes said...

I don't really believe in heroes as such, but I do believe in heroism, and I believe in the value of idealised forms in our myths and legends. I think pointing to this or that person in real life who is a "hero" is always going to lead to disillusionment, because once a person is idolised in that way, it amplifies the importance and impact of any flaws that they have (and everyone has weaknesses, flaws and shortcomings). But it is important to recognise the good that is in everyone - as the Quakers say, "that of God that is in all of us".

I find it hard to draw absolute statements of "true heroism is this" or "a real hero is that", because every person is different, every situation is different, every act is different.

Many of the statements here trying to define heroism strike me as being not about heroism, but about being a good, caring person. Heroes may be held up as examples of how to do that, but it isn't want makes them heroic.

Perhaps the best statement I can think of on the topic, I know only from its appearance in Star Trek: "Don't try to be a great man; just be a man and let history make its own judgements."

And finally, my personal choice of hero (fictional, of course, after all I've said so far): Doctor Who, a man (or rather alien who looks like a man) who sought always to solve problems by non-violent means, who rebuked those who only saw violence as a solution, and who was always willing to put himself at risk to save others.

Amanda Veldorale-Brogan said...

Violence is a cycle. It's a cycle of power and control. It's a cycle of men telling their sons that you have to be tough to be a man. It's a cycle of society telling men and women that men are tougher, stronger, and more capable than women.
A hero is someone who stops that cycle. A hero is someone who knows the strength it takes to say "no". No, I will not subscribe to the current view of a man. No, I will not resort to violence. No, I will not continue this cycle.
A hero is someone who knows the risk of reaching out a helping hand and has the courage to do it anyway.
Thank you for making HERO. It is a message that everyone needs to see.

Anonymous said...

I take offense, at the absurd ideas I keep hearing from you people; The notion, that somehow this world is more uncaring and more violent than ever before, that are heroes are too violent, the world is so cold, that men are the only abusive ones ( which is quite odd coming from the whole women's power movement, I thought women were equal to men, so why can't they be abusive?)
First humanity is, and has always been violent; the times are not changing! Crimes may be reported more, than before, but the pain has been constant. Maybe this project of yours will do some good; but please don't labor, under the false delusion, that things have gotten worse.

Let's see: The Romans: cheered as men killed animals and each other, they crucified Christians or fed them to lions, they tortured people for the hell of it, and when they couldn't defeat an enemy they sailed to his home land and burned it to the ground.

The Christians: They cheered as people were executed, they cheered as a french girl was burned at the stake, they crusaded for GOD killing Muslims to take back the holy land, they pillaged one of their allies in these Crusades, burned thousands of people at the stake(for witchcraft and other such nonsense), they took slaves(cause that was what god wanted), desecrated temples of other religions, destroyed many cultures(all to bring light to them, that need showing), poisoned the Indians with European diseases, raped murdered, and told their lies until they were excepted as truths.
The Good Old Days: Women could vote, blacks couldn't vote, people ignored the violence people did to their own families, blacks were lynched as children cheered, women were raped "because they were asking for it", and don't forget forget that war with that Hitler fellow.

In this world, they have and continue to: stone children for being witches; they mutilate women's genitals, they force children to kill, they rape children, torture people in the name of their false gods, put bombs in kids toys, hurt people who are merely trying to help dying people, and do all kinds of other revolting things. And yet, each generation will claim how much worse it is growing, ignoring the simple fact: This is humanity's past, present, and future. With the advent of technology; perhaps for the first time, more people than ever are aware of it; but they still labor under the false delusion it was better when.

P.S. To the woman, who complained about Jack Bauer; sometimes to be a hero you have to do things others cringe at; sometimes you must fight fire with fire, and sometimes you have to betray everything you believe in for the greater good.

Jason- Ohio

Anonymous said...

I am very humbled at the experiences that people are sharing, and I commend sharing those with people you have never met.
As for the above comment, from Jason in Ohio, I think it is the one I relate to most. Absolutely, the world is not much worse than it has ever been. Unfortunately life is a lot harder that what we see on television or in cinemas. Things in life are slower, it takes time to get where we want to go. And when the bad times get bad it’s not just a half hour third act that makes everything better again. Many heroic acts of the past only mattered and were visible to those that lived in the past. But of course, history is what made us who and what we are today.

I think one of the fundamental points that seems to be getting overlooked in this discussion is what we view as a hero is not necessarily what everyone on Earth will see. I’d rather not turn this into a terrorism debate, so I will only mention this once, but when we looked at the pictures of the planes flying into the towers we saw terrorism, purposeful destruction to the Western world. What the followers of those bombers saw were heroes. These people giving their lives to their god for the good of their belief system. And forget the brainwashing and training camps scaremongering from all the newspaper and governmental spin - our governments are the ones who tell us what we are allowed to learn, what teachers are allowed to teach us, where we get our books from at school, and what languages and cultures we are exposed to. It’s practically the same thing. They tell us that what happened is wrong because we do not believe in what they believe. Nothing in the past 2000 years makes me believe this thinking has evolved. Only the situation the thinking exists in has changed.

Until the understanding that everyone views heroism differently, and that heroism can’t always be about stopping violence, forgiving, being open to love and unafraid of tears or saying ‘no’ to the Man, then I doubt we‘ll ever really be able to pinpoint precisely what a hero should be or is. And I’d rather we didn’t - maybe we shouldn’t.

My view, the way I see it, is that we need to understand and comprehend what people who are not living with the same lifestyles that we are, are living through, what they are hearing in their daily lives. We in the West had our women’s rights movements, our racial warring, our sorry’s and handshakes, and we’d love to believe all is right in our part of the world now (it isn‘t). To us the way the women walk twenty paces behind in the Middle East and are regularly beaten by their husbands, the way young men are recruited for suicide training camps in their mosques purely to destroy the Western ideals on their own turf, are exceptional, disgusting, immoral situations in uncivilised nations living in the dark ages, unable to come into the light of our New Age.

Have you ever been to the Middle East? Do you know what countries even form it? The languages they speak? No? Then why are you letting the so-called ‘officials’ tell you so. I don’t know those things happen there. [Even if they do, it wasn’t that long ago - as recently as the 90s - that statutory rape in marriage was a non-existent part of the law in the UK - a ‘civilised’ country.] Which paper did you read it in? They can send soldiers there, to battle with a culture they don’t understand, and have politicians visit in nice safe areas on the outskirts of the fighting, but until one of my leaders picks up a gun and goes to the front line him or herself, I will not believe a word they tell me and expect me to accept. They are there because I was part of the system that told them they could be. And I can easily be part of the system to remove them too.

No, violence is not always the answer. But sometimes it has to be. A person who intends to do harm is not always wrong to do it. Assault, rape, murder, they should be punished regardless some say. A parent who attacks someone in defence of their child - which by the way they are legally bound to do under duty of care here in the UK - is wrong for doing so then? Of course not. What if they kill that person?
No, crying shouldn’t be shameful act, but for someone to live through their childhood whilst being bullied for absolutely anything the other children take a dislike to and not shed a tear because they will not have others dictate their emotions to them is brave.
Strength is a word that is unfortunately overused when referring to violence. Strength is not just physical, and I believe has more to do with not being physical. Living in a society that tells you difference is wrong - and that is what society tells us in my opinion - and some young man or woman having to turn to their parents, who have the same views, and tell them they are gay. That is a kind of strength some of us will never know, and others will have experiences innumerable times over.

I don’t think that morality is waning. I think that it’s not even being introduced anymore in some areas. Something that was never there can’t disappear. Many things recently have been blamed for it, for the collapse of society. Generally the working classes (and yes they still exist), those uninterested in marriage and nuclear families, single mothers who don’t return to work etc. I think it is trust that’s gone. I don’t trust the people that are meant to be fighting for my rights. Elected officials. Spinning tales and waiting in their sticky webs to lure people to join them. They’re like nasty little viruses, in and out of the papers, on and off the television, telling us how horrible all the other viruses are, and that they’re the virus that is least deadly to our lives. If a stranger came up to me in the street and asked me if I trusted them, I would say no. I don’t know them to trust them. But I’d want to give them a chance, have a chat, learn a bit about them. If a voice on the radio or a face on television appears, out of the blue, and says ‘This is what I am proposing to you. Do you trust me?’ Are you going to say yes or no?

There is no right or wrong, no morality, no single true future. It is perception. All we have is our perception that has been shaped for thousands of years and this is the perception that I believe this project is really about. To me it’s not about the actual physical person we see, it’s the ideals and beliefs that they are carrying. But the person has to be there for us to relate to the ideas - or not as the case may be - as fleshy beings.

My heroes are the ones who challenge the perception of the hero and what heroism is, not the actual hero that we’re given. To be non-conformist is, now as in the past, one of the hardest things to live with. Once you challenge the perception you can see the true gods, icons and heroes underneath.

But of course, you may all see it differently.

Jessica O’Toole, England

Kathy Bugajsky said...

Heroes don't see right and wrong as a choice.

John H said...

One thought that came to mind when reading Jason from Ohio's comment is the old phrase (slightly altered) that 'one man's terrorist is another man's hero'...

So much of life is a matter of perspective - so few heros are shared, so many are personal; so few are anticipated; and so many are unknown before they rise to give.

It is this giving, without expectation of receiving, that for me is key. However, this needs to be tempered by what is expected from that person as if there is an expectation of 'help' (for want of a better word) from an individual then the context of their act of giving changes. For example, while I love my family dearly I would be sorely dissapointed if they didn't help me if I was in need, therefore I would hesitate to catagorise them as 'Hero', but rather as 'hero'. Perhaps this is a reference to the selfish gene... I'm not sure.

For me it is those people, often anonymous and faceless and never anticipated or expected, who give without thought or care for themselves that are the most deserving of the title 'Hero'. These people may be complete strangers who give 'random acts of kindness', be in the services (military or emergency response), or perhaps a journalist, artist, or human rights campaigner who fights for others who they may never meet. For me these people are the Heros, people who often may never be thanked by those individuals, communities, or nations who benefit.


I feel privilaged to have read all the comments and stories above, more than a few of which have brought tears to my eyes. They reassure me that there is a comon thread of humanity that runs in all people and through every nation.

When times are difficult, as perhaps they are now, we must cling to that thread, and be reassured that ultimately we are all the same, but just looking at the world from different angles. It is our task to teach others that none of those angles is absolutely right, nor any absolutely wrong, they are all simply perspectives, each valid within their context, and each made more valid by the complementary presence of others.

Sometimes the context can twist the perspective and the actions that result from it. However, in these cases the answer is not to treat the resulting symptoms, but cure the underlying inbalance in the context and thereby give the perspective a new context in which to exist.

thank you Martin.


John H - Oxford, UK

Sara R. said...

Growing up in the world that we do, its good to know that there is still hope for change for the better.

Everyday you see and hear reports of more violence, more death, so much so that it hardly phases us. When I have my children, I hope that they will be as disgusted by the everyday violence as I, and all of us here, are.

Liam said...

IN A WORLD, WHERE WE LOOK DOWN ON INDIVIDUALS SUCH AS POLICE OFFICERS AND TEACHERS AND GLORIFY INDIVIDUALS WHO BREAK THE LAW, HOW CAN WE EXPECT OUR CHILDREN TO BECOME ANYTHING OTHER THEN WHAT THEY SEE GLAMORIZED IN THE MEDIA .

Aaron Chrisjohn said...

In a world that is moving so fast, good and bad moments pass by without anyone realizing it. Heroes are those that can give of their own self, to slow down time and make it important to speak against the shortcomings of the world they live in, and support the successes of others that give of their own time.

Laurie Peterson Castaldo said...

Heroism viewed large is always attractive. It's the small actions -- those that are done because they're the right things to do -- that are most satisfying when we do them. They're also what allow us to sleep at night.

Heroism is humanism. Everyone is capable...no, "capable" isn't the right word. That makes it sound entirely too functional. Instead, it's what Anne Frank wrote: that deep down, everyone is good at heart. That's where heroism lies. And we've got to get there somehow.

sprite said...

My Mom is my hero. She saved me from an ugly future... she saved me from the path that my Father was on because he couldn't be my hero. This whole thing touched me very deeply. Thank you.

Kelly Harker said...

We need to LEARN from our past instead of finding new ways to justify our violent behaviours and actions throughout history. Yes, history does show us that we are violent creatures of habit, but does that mean that we are doomed to walk the same path as our ancestors? Of our parents and grandparents? Is this a world you feel comfortable raising your children in? If we continue on this same course, we're going to hit a dead end.

The end of everything.

We're going to tear each other apart out of fear and misunderstanding. Using violence to fight violence is a vicious cycle that put us into a tailspin into complete darkness. Yes, life is cruel.

Harsh.

Violent.

Unjust.

Our history shows us this. But does it really have to be this way?

To make war, violence, and abuse commonplace?

Can't we work TOGETHER to create a world for our children and for ourselves, where brutality and suffering ISN'T expected, but where acts of heroism ARE? Kindness and restraint should not be rare. To not be violent should not be a duty, but should come naturally. RESTRAINT. KINDNESS. Why are these impossible tasks?

We need to stop rationalizing VIOLENCE. War. Hate. Fear.

We are selfish.

No one likes to share.

Listen.

Stand apart from the crowd.

We crave acceptance and glory.

Power. Fame. Money.

We seem to be accepting of our flaws, our history, our world. Accepting this world is why no one dares to move.

To act.

To let their voice be heard.

To help others.

To end the violence.

To end oppression and tyrrany.

To end TRADITION.

-Kelly...x

Marian said...

I don't believe this project is about ignoring that there are times when violence or self defense are necessary to one's survival or the survival of others.

It's simply about being kind in our every day lives. There are so many choices we have every day to make. We can slam on the horn and scream profanity at the driver who cut us off in traffic. What has that anger accomplished though? It creates a potential for a situation to quickly escalate out of control. It fuels anger, and usually doesn't even make people feel better.

If instead we simply exercise some empathy and compassion...maybe that person isn't a jerk. We don't know what happened in their world. Maybe they lost their mother recently. Maybe they're rushing to pick up an injured child. Maybe they're late for an appointment, and it could mean their job. Maybe they had a terrible fight with their spouse and they're just not thinking of others. We don't know. Usually the answer is much more benign; they didn't see us, it's not personal.

Extending kindness and compassion to others in such circumstances doesn't just make a difference to them, it makes a huge difference to ourselves and how we perceive a situation. When we exercise kindness, and empathy a confrontation (even if only in our minds) becomes not a big deal.

That's merely one small example. There's thousands of ways each day we can extend a small bit of kindness to others, and make a very big difference in the world.

Imagine a day where everyone was just nice to each other and cared.

Imagine a world where that could be true.

Dava said...

I posted this on Nathan's page in reference to SST2. Thought I would share here, too...

Thinking about all this brings tears to my eyes...I'm reminded of my dad and how he fought cancer with such positivity and hope until his body just gave out...and of how many people (mostly men that had been students of his)visited him and said that they were where they were today because of him and his influence. And I think of both of my grandfathers who were so different in personality but were loved by so many because of the love that they showed to others. I miss them so much.

...And because I have Harry Potter on the brain, I think of him, too. :)

Emma said...

This is going to sound horribly simple.

Have you ever had the lovely experience of walking down the street, going about your business (very much in your own little self involved world), only to lift your eyes and have them meet with the eyes of a person walking past who has a spring in their step, a smile on their face and the words 'hello, how are you today?' burst enthusiastically from their mouth towards you? That person is my hero. You could be having the worst day of your life but that stranger on the street and their smile CAN make you feel a better inside.

Shey said...

I find this to be totally unique, strange and magical. Thank you to everyone participating and contributing.

TV Vote said...

The popular theory is risk taken makes the hero and frames the heroic... we've come to expect risk means blood-letting, and not exposure of our soft underbelly. There is greater risk of pain and hurt when you get close to another being.
Weapons wound from a distance. Words wound up close and personal. Risking your personal belief system, by exposing your sacred self, is the bravest, most heroic a man can be.
Changing your mind is the highest risk.

Anonymous said...

Like so many people, I have had struggles in my life. Growing up, I though abuse was the norm, and found myself in a repetitive pattern of damaging behaviour as an adult. It was only with the help of a wonderful counsellor that I managed to find a path forward. I married and had a beautiful son, and thought that I had found peace. But I was wrong. My son was diagnosed with low functioning autism, and later epilepsy, and my marriage broke down. I am raising my son as best as I can, and there have been days where the struggles with this task have left me feeling so desperate that I have sat on my hall stairs, while my son is wrecking our home, with the phone next to me and the number for the Samaritans in my hands. I have always taken pride in the fact that I am a strong character, a fighter, a practical problem solver, a realist. But at my darkest, lowest points, I have questioned whether personal strength is finite. What if it runs out? What happens on the day that I get knocked down again, and just can’t find the strength to get up? What will happen to my son when I lie down and concede? I do not deny that my own personal heroes have surrounded me: the counsellor who changed my life, and in particular, my friends who have dragged me back to my feet without even realising they were doing it.

But, tell me, is it wrong to feel that I am also my own hero?

bawdy Wench (Meredith Clark) said...

I don't believe it's laboring under a false pretense to say things are worse. It is true violence has always been part of our nature and it is true we see a lot more of it due to modern media however things are a bit worse. I never had to pass through a metal detector in high school nor did I have to worry about what colors I wore to school. I actually knew all my neighbours. I was able to spend the entire day outside with no supervision and no fear. Things are worse because we are becoming increasingly isolated from one another and every year that passes mankind invents ever more destructive ways to destroy each other. I guess between you and me it's all a matter of perspective. For the people in ancient roman times, fear of being attacked was very real. For certain religions fear of being excecuted for your beliefs was also real, our ancestors had their own monsters and so do we. The things that they feared have changed to fit the new paradigm. The only difference is how we survive in it. For us, our monsters are more terrifying because they cater to what we fear in the now, so from our perspective things are worse.

Anthony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anthony said...

Beautiful.

Am I weak because the thought of violence scares me? Am I strong because I still walk in the world? Am I a hero because I want you to know?

My heroes have touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes...

alexs said...

our heros change, certainly, over a lifetime. However, of late, I realise that its not just people that are heros, but Trees, grass, water, air. Maybe that's too airy fairy, I dunno. And the more people that can recognise their part of nature inherent in this greater nature are the real heros. Each one of us has HERO etched in the DNA, to be able to courageously and honestly meet one another being with a full heart, gentleness and open mind. Be a Hero today.

John said...

I grew up in war. One of my earliest memories is being told if I went out in the street and found 'something' to get a grown up. A bomb had exploded at the end of my street and three kids playing football had been killed. There were bits of them lying in the road. I remember lying in the dark on the floor of my house because there were what the TV called 'exchanges of fire'going on outside. Fear has been a component of my life for many years. Fear for myself. Of random shootings, beatings, bombs. Fear of the armed men around me. Fear for those that I love. There is always a reason for violence. You can rationalise and justify almost anything. Such ideas are academic until you hear the screams. Until you see the blood. Violence has become the answer to so much in the 21st Century. We can cheer our side on in the nightly news. We fight for big words like Democracy, Freedom, a better way of life. How many have died for such things? For such lofty goals? I don't know what the answers are. I do know that things are beginning to slip. There is a generation now in our own hallowed societies who are growing up without fathers, without any idea how to behave as men. Who is there to teach them? There is no war now where I live. But there is still violence. And sometimes I am still afraid.

Sarah said...

A hero is someone who gives of themselves and never asks for a single thing in return. They don't give because they are expected to but because they know no other way of living. They smile, they sing, they dance for no reason at all. They love all humankind because they see that we are all one very large family, and if you can't count on family, who can you count on?

A hero gets up every morning and thanks the heavens for yet another day on this wonderful planet. They do not focus on what society is doing to it, only that it is beautiful. They say hello to strangers; they provide a comfort zone to loved ones.

A hero is someone like my grandfather, Millard M. Collier. May he rest in peace. I only hope that I can manage to live my life in such a way that would make sense to him, and make him smile that smile, dance those happy feet and hug me in my dreams until I get to see my hero once again.

Scot in Michigan said...

We are not at a 'tipping point'. We are not suddenly under the assault of the ills of man. We are at an ever growing point of realization that the way our young sons are raised - by the family, by the schools, by the media - is severely flawed.

I struggle to keep this in mind while raising my son, as I'm sure my father did with me. Who are heroes to young boys? Ask them, they will tell you. You may not like what you hear.

Eryn said...

after watching part 2 and 2.5:

I look at my husband and i see the struggle. The struggle against all the conflicting messages- to be a good man you must be: compassionate, uncaring; cold, warm; benevolent, ruthless; sensitive, hardened; selfish, selfless; obtain wealth at all costs, be generous with what you have. I see the struggle in him to find a middle ground, to find a balance between the soldier and the poet, the sinner and the saint, to find his own truth amidst all the noise. I see him wanting to surrender, to take the easy path of anger and powerlessness and i see him choose- again and again- the path of love and the difficult journey to be a better person; a good person; a good man. He is a hero.

Ordinary Man said...

If each and every person on this earth took 15 minutes out of every day to change, 5 minutes to help someone else, 5 minutes to help the planet and 5 minutes to think about how we can improve ourselves as individuals just think what a better place the world would be. I am not a shining light or a great example of this but I am trying to be a better person and that is all that each of us can do.... TRY

cat riona russell . cat's corner . australia said...

real heroes are not made of paper or cinemagraphic film.

Stephanie said...

We must sing the praises of the real hero. The false hero is everywhere, being paid huge sums of money for their ability to play a game or run a company. The quiet dignity of the real hero is what is important. The character that is shown with every move of the real hero is what is important. Ruthlessness is not a character trait I wish my son to embrace. Compassion and understanding are far more valuable in the human scheme of things. We must lead by example. We must show that hero is a path to be walked. We must become the hero in our child's life.

Matthew said...

I have been learning martial arts since I was 9 years old. In the 23 years that I have passed since then the question I get asked most often is "Have you ever had to use it?" I find that an odd question. I use it ever day. In life, in decisions, in passing knowledge to my own child. But that is not what they are looking for. What they are really asking is "have you ever beat someone up?". I usually say no. Because I have used it and I am not proud of what I did. What I am proud of when it comes to martial arts is watching what I have done for other people through teaching them martial arts. I have shared my martial arts knowledge with countless individuals and it is through these times that I have become the most proud. I have watched what I have shared with others transform them. Inable them to do physical acts they thought nigh impossible for themselves, to understand there own bodies in a way they could never thought existed. I remember every child who smile, every woman who laughed, and ever man who yelled "Yes". And when I share these moments with those that ask about my martial arts people don't care. All they want to know is the violence, the hate, the destruction of another person I am capable of. That is today's society. I am just glad I was able to help those that I have. I hope that they, in turn, helped others. We can't change everyone one ourselves, we can change the man next to us and hope he does the same.

Yolanda Brown said...

My father was my hero. He did not have a good education, but he was strong. He held our famiily together, and passed his wisdom to others. I often think in the dark of night that if my father was alive, what would he say in regard to the state of our world? He would say "All The Politician are selling 'wolf tickets', and they need to listen to the people that put them in office and show the people that they are listening. I pray everyday that someone WAKES UP, that someone can SEE what is going on. People struggling to exist on this planet, struggling to keep their families together. Why can't they see? Why can't they listen? I believe in heroes. My father was one. Those that protect us every day (soldier or fireman or cop), are heroes. I know they exist, and I pray that they are more out there.

Jeff said...

It is about time that our society undergoes a paradigm shift of what a hero truly is. And to me it is simply this: someone who naturally puts others ahead of themselves (be they loved ones or strangers). With the world going the way it is, we must be losing more and more heroes every day.

Anonymous said...

You won it, wore it, kept it, gave it me;
Then plain and right must my possession be;
Which I with more than with a common pain
'Gainst all the world will rightfuly maintain.

- William Shakesepare

Art is my inspiration. Art is my Hero.

"MissJoy" said...

The least I can do is provoke people to think first...act second

sarahdee said...

Every 9 seconds a woman is battered. 95% of victims of domestic violence are woman. 50% of all women murdered are killed by a spouse or acquaintance, and doemstic violence occurs in 60% of marriages, most of which go unreported.
All this occurs in the US alone. These numbers are staggering. They are staggering, and they are real.

When I think of the violence that ensues in our own backyards, it breaks my heart.

How did we get here? Do we choose not to see, or have we, as a society become so self-involved that we simply don't see?

"Last night I heard the screaming
Loud voices behind the wall
Another sleepless night for me
It wont do no good to call
The police
Always come late
If they come at all

And when they arrive
They say they cant interfere
With domestic affairs
Between a man and his wife
And as they walk out the door
The tears well up in her eyes

Last night I heard the screaming
Then a silence that chilled my soul
I prayed that I was dreaming
When I saw the ambulance in the road

And the policeman said
Im here to keep the peace
Will the crowd disperse
I think we all could use some sleep
-Tracy Chapman
Behind the Wall

We have been taught to mind our own affairs, to ignore the disputes of others no matter the severity.

When will we learn? When will enough be enough?

Anonymous said...

This is silly and naive.

Anonymous said...

Integrity, loyalty, selflessness, love, hope, and humility. These are qualities which define a hero. The best part is anyone is capable of these qualities. We simply need to be willing.

Khayxie said...

If a hero is someone who faces pain, death, shame, humility and helpless with courage, even if afraid, then I must say that every child who is afflicted with Childhood Cancer is my hero. Most of these kids are enrolled in clinical trials to further advance the knowledge of how to treat cancer in future generations, even if the outcome for themselves may be dismal. Yes, the children cry, fight, yell or misbehave, but they also are the one who face death in the most practical way.

My son is my hero. He died when he was 9 years old from Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. He told me he was ready to die and did so with dignity. He made me promise to have an autopsy performed and his tumors sent to the Children's Oncology Group tumor bank to be studied so that "no other kid has to go through what I have, Mom."

Kelly Harker said...

Sometimes I try to hide my pain. The memories. My scars. Wear long sleeves. A thick watch to cover the scars on my wrist. Put on a fake smile. A bright laugh. There's always a quiet scared voice that urges me to hide. To forget. Push everything to the back of my mind. But I won't live in regret. Darkness. Fear. Powerlessness. I want my voice to be heard. I want to be counted. To share my story with the world. To prove I was real. Here. That I suffered abuse. Depression. Suicidal thoughts. Attempts. And that through all of this, I survived.

I'm not afraid to talk about my father. What he did to me. To my mother. To my sister. He can't hurt us anymore. I'm too strong for him now. We're too strong. Empowered.

I remember when my father was my hero. He would hug me and tell me I was his Princess. He took me fishing, flying Kites, to the Town Fair. I was his "half pint". I admired my dad. My world revolved around my family. I felt loved, and I loved them. Then suddenly it all changed. Life became darker, colder, violent. The hugs stopped. Only yelling. Lies. Crying. Confusion. I would put my head under the pillow at night, trying to muffle the noise. Blocking it all out. I remember wishing to turn into a butterfly and flying away from all of it. Turn into stone. Fall asleep. Let it all be a dream.

After my parents separated, I was bounced around between my mom, my dad, and my sister. Not sure where I belonged. No one wanted me. I eventually came to believe that I didn't belong. I didn't deserve to belong.

Living with my father was a nightmare. But when I pinched myself I didn't wake up. I've blocked out most of the memories, for good reason I'm sure. Locked away forever in the deep caverns of my mind. I hope I never visit them. The verbal and emotional abuse that my mother endured was now visited upon me. I was taught that I didn't matter. I was a burden. Ugly. Fat. Selfish. Useless. A waste of space. A disappointment. Nothing.

Eventually that's what I learned to believe. I took in all of the words. The looks of disgust. I believed I was worthless. I believed I deserved the abuse. I didn't deserve to eat every night. I didn't deserve to have friends. To have clean clothes. To go to school. To use the bathroom. Take a bath. To have my own room. Have a lunch to eat every day. To sleep in a clean bed. To him, I didn't deserve these rights.

I started to waste away. I was lost, and fell into deep depression. I felt no love, no hope, no joy. No bright future ahead of me. All I felt was cold and alone. Eventually I tried to end all my pain and loneliness. I felt as though I was stuck in quick sand, and every new day was like a struggle that just dragged me deeper and deeper down. One day I couldn't breath. I felt buried alive. So I tried to end it. But then it happened. She came into my life. Extended her hand and lifted me up. My hero saved my life.

I am alive because of a hero. That special teacher who became a friend, a confidante, and a mother. She saw my pain and didn't ignore it. Didn't turn away. She didn't judge or force me into the light, but rather helped guide me to find my own path. To make my own choices that were positive and healthy. Choices that would strengthen my character, my spirit, and my autonomy. Because of her kindness, generosity, empathy, and concern, I became EMPOWERED. Strong. Because of this teacher- this hero, I am here today. I am happy. I smile. I laugh. I have friends. I have a husband. A family. I am loved. I love.

My scars are still there. Those that are on the surface, and those that are hidden. But I am living. I live my life to the fullest. I feel gifted for each new day that arrives. For each person that I meet. There is so much beauty and goodness in the world. Humanity has so much potential. Just because we are all strangers, that doesn't give us the right to disengage from each other. We're all connected. We all live in this world. We all just want to be happy. To be loved. To love.

Kelly...x

Chris said...

I can only quote something I once heard.
A teacher told his students "Go out and do good." A student corrected him by saying " Don't you mean go out and do well?" The teacher replied with only this...."No."

Chris said...

Too know how to fight, and yet choose not to is heroic.

Chris

Lauren said...

The Ancient Greek Hero was wise. Let's look at Clever Odysseus. He was never called Odysseus the Strong despite his great strength. It was his mind that set him apart.
There was the ideal that a man should use his mind as much as his muscle.
Odysseus did not wish to go to war, he wished to be home. His whole story is to avoid being brash and disrespectful, and to think before acting. When he forgets to be his clever self, he falters. When he uses his mind, his wisdom, when he thinks, everything works out. Even when violence is needed, it is planned, thought out, and not for the sake of violence.
So where has this hero gone? Where is this great man who thinks? Left to history, to forgotten books, to poor characterizations.
And our heroes now? Cyborgs and Soldiers of Fortune, people with quick reactions for violence, and clever only to win the day no matter the body count.
But maybe every now and then, someone thinks of poor Odysseus, and creates a Malcom Reynolds.
Our true heroes are never sung of in poems around a fire, or burned onto a DVD for making money.
They toil, they struggle, and they make the difference that holds the world together. And we simply pass them by, looking for the great gun wielding icon to keep us safe. But that Paramedic who hooked in your IV and kept you going until you made it to the hospital after the car accident? The Janitor who cleaned up the spill on the floor so you didn't slip on it and end up injured? The friend who was the designated driver and got you home safe after the beer tasting festival?

Why are they not heroes for their selflessness and wisdom?

Nathan is a great choice for this project. He shows what celebrity should be. Educated, well spoken, and caring. And hopefully he can become a role model for change. What type of change? One that leads to a world more expressive, caring, and most importantly, a world willing to think.

We can all aspire to be heroes. We are all capable. We just need to create a society that is willing to try.

I'm in.

Bawdy Wench/Meredith said...

Someone mentioned in an earlier blog how icons and heroes were dicussed but not one word about gods. Out of curiosity I looked up the definition of god in the dictionary.
GOD
A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions.
The force, effect, or a manifestation or aspect of this being.
A being of supernatural powers or attributes, believed in and worshiped by a people, especially a male deity thought to control some part of nature or reality.
An image of a supernatural being; an idol.
One that is worshiped, idealized, or followed: Money was their god.
A very handsome man.
A powerful ruler or despot.
I found it interesting that the definition included not only a benevolent but also malevlolent manifestation. I really found it odd that the definition included "A Very Handsome Man"
The definition of goddess was this.
A female being of supernatural powers or attributes, believed in and worshiped by a people.
often Goddess A female being believed to be the source of life and being and worshiped as the principal deity in various religions. Used with the.
An image of a female supernatural being; an idol.
Something, such as fame or wealth, that is worshiped or idealized.
A woman of great beauty or grace.
Does anyone else find it weird that the definition of goddess has "used with the" added to it but not god? It almost implies a lesser status upon goddess. In honor of Martin's news that there will be a Heroine added to the project I decided to share my vision of the heroine ideal.
When I think of a heroine, I imagine a woman strong, proud, compassionate, wise, gentle, forgiving, merciful and fierce. For me the Egyptian Goddess Isis has always embodied those ideals. To the Egyptians she was the Great Mother, Giver of Life and Moon Goddess. She guided the Egyptians into civilization, showing them mathematics, agriculture and also being the keeper of the strands of Fate, taught them to pierce the veil for answers to the future. She considered the Egyptians to be her children and was their protector on more than one occasion donning the mantle of warrior to defend against Set. She encouraged her people to embrace peace, to know thyself, to express mercy and compassion in everyday life and to strive for wisdom. She is for me the exmplar of a heroine.

Jon Brooks said...

We are currently in a spiritually homeless and broken-soulled age. We can't prove it because we all know it's true. Our times are passive and nonplussed and we will not be shocked by anything or by anyone anymore. AWe are proud of our chic and shockless world. Our numbness is fashionable and 'civilized'. But we are numb to many important things: numb to violence and injustice; numb to history and culture; numb to thought and ideation; numb to empathy and hope - at the bottom of it, we are numb to ourselves and so it goes how we necessarily become numb to others. In these mediocre days, we have only one thing left that shocks us: a moral and decisive action from someone who can still see others - a hero.

Anonymous said...

Martin, I hear that the next installment of HERO has to do with the strength of women. I am lucky enough to have a wonderfully heroic female influence in my life.

If you happen to look upwards through these posts you'll find her. Jen (Captain of Community HERO - Team PIRATES) is an amazing women.

Two examples?

1) While taking me into town one day we stopped for some gas, and Jen saw a mom who obviously didn't have very much money. When the woman's daughter started getting upset because she wanted a cookie and the lady didn't have enough to buy her one, Jen very quietly paid for it at the cash and walked out, so the lady wouldn't know where it had come from.

Lesson Learned - One needn't be a millionaire to make someone's day better.

2) I'm 18, and graduated from high school this year. At my prom, my boyfriend, who had been physical with me for quite some time got smashed, and started getting grabby. Jen was chaperoning, and saw what was going on. By the time she got over to me he had pulled a knife. She saw him go for me, and stood in between us. She got stitches that night, but probably saved my life.

Lesson Learned - All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good PEOPLE to do nothing.

Jen is much more then my Community HERO team leader. She inspires me to be a better person, and shows me every day just how amazing a woman can be.

Bawdy Wench/Meredith said...

Anonymous, the fact that you are wise enough to understand and appreciate the significance of Jen's actions and the lessons learned by them makes you a Hero too. With that kind of astuteness, I'm sure you will make one heck of a mark on the world.

Serena said...

I work with children all day, every day. I see countless expressions of frustration that are manifested with cruel words and even fists. Did I mention that these kids are in elementary school? What can I do as a concerned educator to guide these young boys through the minefield of peer pressure, hormones, and poor examples of male behavior? The "bullies" are far outnumbering the "wimps" and I fear that the gentle nature that resides in all of us deep down will be forever stomped out, if parents, teachers, and other concerned adults do not start an active process of deprogramming. Now. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Yesterday...

Martin said...

A man's hand can be clenched to draw blood.

Or unfurled to wipe away a child's tear.

Which is more powerful? Which has the farther reaching impact? What if it were your child? What if the child was you?

POV is everything. Imagination is power -- but heroes are not fantasy.

Emma, UK said...

a hero is someone who lives everyday as if the world was the way it SHOULD be, in order to show it what it can be.

A hero doesnt judge people by the outcomes of their actions but by the intent behind them. It doesnt matter if you're superman or clark kent, do what you can. Superheroes, and by extension, heros, inspire us to see inside ourselves a spark of divinity, of a higher power, of good- whatever you want to call it, that potential we all have, heroes make us want to be more, want to do better, be better, and most importantly, they make us believe its possible- we CAN be better, and thats what keeps us trying.

In the 20th century the role of women changed. It wasnt easy, it wasnt quick. It took time, effort, and sacrifice, but it happened. The 21st century is the time for the role of men to change. It wont be easy, but then, change never is.

I'm in.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to write and second my friend "annonymous" mention of Jen.

My mom and dad aren't around me very much. My dad split when I was a baby, mom not that far after. I was raised by my grandparents. they're wonderful people, but it's hard to talk to someone so far apart in age about the things that impact a teenagers life you know?

I know that some of you on here know Jen, but for those of you who don't, did you know that Jen spends most every Wed night volunteering at a kids crisis line? That's how I met her.

Being 17 and stupid I believed my boyfriend when he said he loved me. That it was my fault when he attacked me. That it wasn't really rape because we were dating. I was in a pretty dark hole when I called the crisis line and got Jen. She talked to me for 6 straight hours. Made me promise to call her back the next day. Really pulled me through something that I don't think I could have got through on my own.

I don't know what would have happened if I wasn't for Jen. And all she did was listen. I'll always be grateful to her. She's a hero to me, and many others.

-Rianna

PS - Go Team ARTISTS

Teresa Ellis said...

Sometimes the best we can do is to get up every morning and try to be the best person we can... to make the best decision each time the best that we can at that time.

Trying... always the key word with me. We will not always be successful but it's usually a worthwhile battle.

Lisa Lay. Layton Utah said...

When young men learn that intergrity and compassion speak louder than any harsh word or weapon, we as a society might begin to mend.
Too overwhelming? Isn't the alternative more overwhelming?

Mary said...

The modern human world, in general, is not organized to promote the basic and overwhelming goodness of people, but rather in reaction to the small percentage of self within us all that serves no positive purpose. In doing so, it undermines its greater objective of creating a peaceful society by placing emphasis on that which is aggressive, violent and cruel.

Anonymous said...

Hello Everybody

My name is Cody Anne, and I am one of the Community HERO kids. I joined the group after being inspired by HERO itself. I think Martin's message is very important and I want to help spread it.

The impact of a fist is over in a second.

The impact of a kind word can last a lifetime.

Thank you Martin.

Cody Anne

Bawdy Wench/Meredith said...

I apologize in advance for the length of this blog but there was an incident written about in Las Vegas Weekly that was finally resolved in court after 2 years. It is I believe a perfect example of our predisposition to react with violence and our predilection towards "minding our own business". A woman pulled into a gas station being followed by a 60 year old man. When she got out of the car to purchase her smog test he came over and began screaming at her that she cut him off. After he went into the station she called her husband in hysterics. He immediately left work accompanied by a patient of his who offered to go with him. When he got to the station he confronted the old man. It escalated into a shouting match which resulted in the husband shoving the older man. The older man lost his balance and smashed his head on the propane tank cage and the sidewalk where he fell. Less than 24 hours later he was dead of multiple skull fractures. The court charged him with involuntary manslaughter and gave him 5 years probation, no jail time. Fact, the husband was younger, taller and outweighed the other man by at least 30 pounds. Fact, when he arrived at the scene his wife and children were in no danger, he had the option to leave. Fact, his wife could have left at any time after the old man walked away or she could have called the police, she opted to stay and wait for her husband to arrive. The husband made the choice to allow his anger to dictate his actions. His wife probably had a pretty good idea how her husband would react yet she said nothing when he confronted the man. Fact, there were at least 15 people standing around who saw most of the incident, it was broad daylight at a busy intersection and yet no one intervened. It doesn't matter if the husband had no intention of taking a life that day, what matters is he and his wife made the moral choice to allow things to escalate. The bystanders chose to "mind their own business". A man is now dead, leaving behind a daughter and a widow because the husband was taught to believe that it was acceptable to react in this manner in the defense of his family. If he truly wanted to protect his family he should have simply walked away, he had the option. This is the kind of behavior the men in our society are raised on. Macho posturing and confrontation are encouraged. It takes a bigger man to uphold a certain moral code and to walk away from that kind of situation. I blame society for why this happened. I also think he should have gotten jail time, he made a conscious decision, a moral choice and he should have to pay for that. If you would like to read the article it is in the July 26 -Aug 1 edition. The web address is www.lasvegasweekly.com. You can find the article in the archives section. It is labeled "A Question of Justice".

Anonymous said...

Re: above post

Fact, the old man also made a choice out of anger--he chose to take a small incident far past the point it needed to be taken. Did he need to yell at the woman? What was he hoping to achieve? Even if her driving was horrible, he had the same choice any of them had: call the police or let it go.

I'm not defending the husband, but if the finger points to anger and overreaction as the cause of this tragic death, it needs to also point at the old man.

No one wins when one takes anger to such an extreme.

Robin said...

I have to agree with Denise here. The best heroes are those who don't even realize they are heroes.

And acts of heroism are not always grandeous, or large. Heroes can reach you with a smile, a hand, a kiss, an act so random that you have no way of seeing where the ripple leads.

Thank God for the unsung hero!

Bawdy Wench/Meredith said...

That's true anonymous both are guilty of letting their anger get the better of them. However, the old man walked away after his rant and went into the station. So actually the husband, the wife and the old man are to blame. The whole thing was a tragic mess. The husband is an upstanding, wealthy chiropracter in Vegas, I wonder if that had a bearing on the fact that he received absolutely no jail time. I wonder if he were of a different socio-economic background things would have been different.

Teresa Ellis said...

The topic is being better people. To that end, I will disclose my experience and view of this matter. I apologize in advance for its length.

There are people out there stuck in their own misery. But here are tools you can use to break free... and they're all inside each of us.

I know adversity. I'm not trying to corner the market... who really wants that? A martyr I am not... throughout history, I've never seen any have fun. There are countless people that have known worse than me... I'm not competitive in that area. Me and people like me fight our very natures every day. We do things we don't want to do every day... face and push through horrible fears that we don't want to every day... all in the name of living... doing this thing that we never signed up for and doing it with various handicaps. We go see every kind of doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, whatever, in the hopes of being better... doing better... in hopes of making any thing, better.

For seven years I didn't want to budge out of bed... it was the hardest thing to do to open my eyes and think of moving... but I did it... didn't do it well, but it was done. I did it because my pets needed me. Those sweet creatures that give me everything and only want my love, and chow of course. Every cell in my body begged me to stay in bed, every day was a shriek of agony... living, to me, is agony at times. But I'm here... I knew I wasn't living... I felt a growing desperation about the state of my existence and I pushed to find better, to do better... and better I am.

I illustrate these things to show that I know what I'm talking about... to strike a cord in someone who may recognize these things and come to know that there are alternatives. Most people will never know how difficult all of that was... or of the difficulties I still face... will face. Most aren't meant to. I can only thank God that some of you won't know or relate to any of this.

In traversing this existence, I have changed everything but my basic nature quite a number of times... to please those I've loved... to try to get along in, what seems to be at times, a really cold and crappy world.
- To try to please adoptive parents
- To try to regain an identity when I failed miserably at the previous task and
realized I didn't remember who I was to begin with - I was 9.
- To be a better person after boot camp taught me what I was truly made of
- Again to try to save my marriage (could have saved that effort)
- And again when my divorce was final and my illnesses grew worse.

What this has taught me is that everything about ourselves down to our thought process is a habit we have formed as we've grown. Almost everything can be modified at the very least, or torn down and rebuilt at the most. We only have to want it and be willing to work hard at it.

It is a hateful excuse, the "That's just the way I am". It is a cop out. Used by people that want a world to revolve around them.

There are resources and avenues all around each of us... there to help us be better if we want to be. Open your eyes... look around... reach out. Put a little effort and be encouraged by any result. Sometimes the result is big... sometimes not so big... but any is change. Change can be good.

But be aware too... of your actions... of your thoughts. Don't let them run you. You be in charge. You run them. And while you are doing that... know that there are others around you... don't make them cannon fodder.

We can be better... if we choose to be

Teresa Ellis
www.myspace.com/normikay

Susan said...

Heroes to me are people who rally around to protect victims of any form of bullying whether it be mental or physical.

Susan said...

Heroes to me are people who rally around to protect victims of any form of bullying whether it be mental or physical.

Anonymous said...

Hello All,

My name is Robert (of Community HERO: Team ENTERTAINERS) and I too am writing about Jen.

It has taken me a very long time not be afraid to write/express the following statement. I am gay. Jen was the first person I came out to. I told her, expecting the worst, and was really surprised by her reaction. (Exact words: 'Do you want the polite reaction or the honest reaction? Polite - I've known that for a long time. Honest - Duh.')

But I could never muster up the courage to say something to my family. Coming from an area replete with manly men who fix their trucks while trapping dinner I didn't expect it would go over well. But I wanted to tell my father. And Jen went with me. Not to fight for me, not to defend me, just to silently stand in my corner. She told me to give my father a chance, that I might be surprised by his reaction.

He faltered, paused, told me that he'd love me even if I decided that giraffes were fatally attractive, then said 'You know who's good looking? That Matt Damon guy.'

Clutzy maybe, but honest. And because Jen was there for me I have a relationship with my dad that I never dreamed possible. And all she had to do was stand in my corner.

-Robert

tracy said...

"you cant shake hands with a clenched fist"
Golda Meir

we all need to take responsibility. then we can all be heroes.

Anonymous said...

Martin I think your project is beautiful, and I want to echo the thoughts of some of the earlier posters.

I'm here to tell you all about the darkest time in my life, and the one who made it brighter.

My daughter was very ill. Had been in and out of hospital for months, the outlook was grim, and she was very down. Down until a hospital volunteer came bustling around the corner, peered into her room, saw the posters on her wall and said "OH MY GOSH, You're a BROWNCOAT!!"

That's right Jen. I'm talking about you.

Jen sat down with my daughter, and, though they bickered over who was cuter (Jen was for Nathan - my daughter for Adam Baldwin) she never failed to bring a smile to my daughter's face.

Jen wrote to Adam, and, though I have no idea how, even convinced him to send her a boatload of Firefly memorabilia. In that package were two bracelets that read "Can't Take the Sky From Me." My daughter wore one, and gave the other to Jen.

She was in and out of the hospital for quite some time, getting better, getting worse, but Jen never failed in coming by to see her, sitting with her to watch Firefly. Having somebody around my daughter closer to her own age, who actually knew who Jayne was....well... you can just imagine how much my daughter thought of Jen.

A few weeks after she passed away, I ran into Jen on the street. She told me how much she thought of my daughter, and that she had hoped that she had made a difference. I found out later on that Jen had named a star after her. Truly, she had made sure, that no one would ever "take the sky away" from my daughter.

Jen still has her bracelet on.

You're my hero Jen. The world would be a better place if it had more people like you in it.

Anonymous said...

I'm an American Soldier in Baghdad, Iraq right now. I listen to what he had to say and I agree. Every day here there is violence. I've been here for 11 months and I'm going to be here for 4 more months before I can go home. If I have learned one thing in my time in Baghdad it is that violence is not a solution to any problem. I look at this country and all I see is waste. You can not make peace by fighting. You can not make people free by taking away their freedoms (and we do take away their freedoms, believe me I'm here). What we need is a new example for us and our children on what exactly a hero is. You don't need to die to be a hero, and you don't need to fight to be a man. I'm so tired of war, and I know that my enemy is tired too. More importantly, I know the people of Iraq are tired of dying in our crossfire. I want to shout to my enemy and beg him to lay down his weapon (which I have done), so that I can lay down mine. I don't care who gets labeled the "winner". The winners are those who live to go home, whether that be in Baghdad, Afghanistan, England, or America and live their lives free from war, oppression, and discrimination. I beg this world, please, let's all just put our weapons down and walk away.

Tracy Humphreys said...

One of my heroes is my husband. I can fumble around trying to find adjectives to describe him, like kind and good and understanding. But those things aren't him. Those things are just traits.

My husband and I have been together for eight and a half years. I won't pretend that we have never hurt each other. As humans, we are all going to make mistakes that will hurt the ones we love. But the reason that our love has stood the test of time is our ability to recognize this fact and forgive.

People cannot believe it when I tell them that in over eight years, my husband has never so much as raised his voice to me in anger. Impossible, they say. But it is not impossible to conceive of the idea that you can have enough respect and love for another to never intentionally hurt them.

He is not weak. He is strong. He is strong because he recognizes that there is more power in love than in anger. His love for me is stronger than his temper.

RESPECT

UNDERSTANDING

TOLERANCE

LOVE

These are traits of a hero. A hero is not perfect. We will ALL make mistakes. A hero is one who recognizes this and learns from those mistakes. A hero strives to each day continue to better him or herself. A hero sees the hope and the potential in each new day, and never gives up. No matter how bleak the current picture of our lives, a hero strives for the realization of the picture that hope paints for the world.

Tracy Humphreys, Collinsville, IL

Kersten said...

Heros have hope. They have to believe that what they are doing will make a difference in some way. And many times they can pass that hope to other. Even last ditch efforts, the miraculous saves, the people who know that they will die in the attempt have hope.

Heros do not act for a reward. That doesn't mean that they shouldn't get a reward or deserve one. We recently had a bridge collapse here in Minnesota. Many
people stopped to help others get safely away from the danger. These people are heroes. Afterward, many of them were interviewed on TV, which could theoretically be called a reward. However, I'm willing to bet that 15 minutes of fame never entered their heads when they were on the bridge.

Heroes become heroes without injuring others. They do not need to push someone down in order to rise. You might be able to make yourself look better by belittling the person next to you, but that certainly doesn't make you a hero. Being a hero means that sometimes you will have to accept help from others to achieve a common goal.

Cath betaman said...

Stumbling upon a sight for Heroes attached to a movie advertising site left me a little skeptical. But even if it is an exercise in public awareness it is still a great idea. May the heroes of our lives - those who care and laugh and nurture and stick like glue and support and speak the truth - may these people never fade away.
Cath Bateman Sydney Australia

sarah said...

I stumbled upon this site after i saw it in a friends comment box i was truely amazed and so moved that it brought a tear to my eye.

a true hero will reach out a hand and ask nothing in return, They will run towards a burning house with no thought for themseleves. or they will simply be there to listen to what you need to say with out judgement or pity

There lies a hero in all of us all you simply need to do is to find it is open your heart and your mind and not be afraid of to reach out.

sarahj said...

I have found that there are many types of heroes in this world.
Those who can be themselves no matter and stay true to what the believe is good and right.

when i was attacked and raped at the age of 15 I never thought that i would get over what was done to me or the fact that I was pregnant and alone but I found that people in the world that truely care they helped me through everything and now 6 years later i can face the world with no fear of the past and my head held high with the love of a child the gives more pleasure and hope that 1 day she would be able to see the world as it shud be

love what your doing and keep spreading the love

Kara said...

I think that there are a lot of heroes out there we overlook every day. The man or woman on the street that stops when someone drops something and helps them pick it up. They guy or girl that tells the bus to stop when they see someone running to catch it. The men and women who serve as firefighters and volunteer firefighters that put it on the line everyday. A person that says kind words to someone who looks like they desperately need them. The list is endless but they are all heroes and I thank them all for making the world a better place.

Kara

Michael Smigiel said...

As I was watching the project I kept thinking of my Father and how much of what I was reading reminded me of him, how he lives his life, and of the things that he has taught me.

I only hope that I am man enough to instill in my son the same attitudes and beliefs that my Father taught me about life and how to live it.

He may not view himself as such but my Father always has been, and always will be, my HERO.

Kara said...

I would like to share a story about a boy now turned man that is just one example of a real life hero. The full story, I blogged. I did not want to take up a whole page here. If you want the whole thing read my blog.

Kimmie Weeks was 8 years old and lived in Liberia in West Africa. By age 9, he was caught in that country's civil war (1989). He saw friends and family killed and children being taken to be soldiers. The country was afflicted by famine and disease.

One year later he was nearly dying from malnutrition and illness. He watched the men that were digging his shallow grave while he still lived.

To their suprise he survived and made a vow that no other child would have to go through what he went through. Keep in mind he is only 10 and is making a vow like this.

He made good on his commitment and at age 13 founded Voice of the Future. The first organization of its kind in his country that Advocated child rights and was run by young people.

At age 15 he launched the Children's Disarmament Campaign, working with UNICEF to help end Liberia's civil war and to disarm the estimated 15,000-20,000 child soldiers caught in it.

At age 16, when the disarmament occurred, Kimmie created Liberia's first children's information service, The Children's Bureau of Information, which "worked to reintegrate former child soldiers into the community."

In less than 10 years, Kimmie had been displaced from his home, forced to leave school, lost family and friends to civil war, nearly died of disease and starvation, and yet had continued on to found 3 powerful projects aimed at restoring hope. This is more than most people experience or accomplish in a lifetime, let alone before reaching adulthood.

At the age of 17 he published a controversial report he had written on the Liberian army's training of child soldiers. He didn't realize the impact it would have on his life until soldiers came looking for him. He pretended he was someone else, and soon began hiding by staying at various friend's homes for a few days at a time each. But the military was never far behind and soon it became clear that he needed to leave his country. Through the help of a friend in government, he escaped the country using a false name and sought political asylum in the United States in which he had two siblings already.

There is so much more to his story. Please check it out at:

http://www.myhero.com/myhero/hero.asp?hero=Kimmie_Weeks_Brick07

For further news about this great man:

http://www.kimmieweeks.com

I salute you Kimmie Weeks for making our world a better place.

PaigeM18 said...

When I watched this, it made me think a lot about my dad. When I was younger, I was bothered that he was so emotional and cried all the time, because society told me crying men were weak. Now? The fact that my dad can be emotional proves to me that he is one of the strongest heroes I know, and I'm thankful every day I have with him.

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