Malala and John McCain: the real heroes


We have a distorted view of who are the heroes among us. When people think about heroes, they often start with sports figures like Tom Brady or Lebron James. But I don’t consider super star athletes to be heroes. Their performances are exciting and entertaining, but not inspiring the way a hero’s should.

Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old girl from Pakistan, is a hero. She took a bullet to the head by Taliban gunmen for openly supporting education for girls in her country a few years ago. THAT is inspiring! One of my favorite literary heroes is Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird. He did the right thing despite tremendous pressure from everyone around him, and he did it because he had such a strong, internal code of ethics that governed how he behaved. THAT is heroic! Girls with severe anxiety who dragged themselves out of bed to face their social fears each day are heroic. People who stand up to the Queen Bee when they are harassing a peer show tremendous courage and strength. Senator John McCain refused use his privileged status to go home after a year in a Vietnamese prison camp because he wanted to stay with his friends who needed his leadership. THAT is heroic!

So let’s be more careful about throwing the hero word around. Point out to your kids examples of real heroes who are out there but who get less publicity. Kids get overwhelmed with pseudo-important people on reality shows and in the media. Make sure they read the stories of truly courageous people like Malala.


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