Jeanne Ellin: Where have all the heroes gone?

Group of people walking

Banner with Jeanne Ellin's quoteI know we need figures of threat and hate, perhaps they have a unifying function. I am not denying such people can and do pose a real threat, from Napoleon to Bin Laden, but they also seem to serve another purpose and not just to fill column inches.

Group of people walkingDeliberately ignoring the latest fear figure, let us look for heroes.

But where are the heroes? We did have them – the Duke of Wellington and Churchill for example – but more recent conflicts do not seem to have given us such larger-than- life folk to trust and admire. And when we do find people to admire there too many column inches to be gained in finding every flaw.

I believe heroes and heroines are nearer and more numerous than we think.

Leaving aside the handful of world figures like Malala, who do we have?

My list includes:

A man using the last of his life’s strength to care for a very sick wife; doing it quietly without help and, more importantly, with love.

A working single mother with disabled children who is not only making a success in a notoriously chancy profession, but finds time and generosity of spirit to help others in her field.

A woman lovingly making a positive life for a husband with the needs of a toddler and the weight and dignity of a grown man.

A young person battling to build a life and be creative while pulled under by old pain.

A care leaver building a career with no family support or backup and saving for the future.

Two women of different ages bent under the weight of debilitating illnesses living with love, courage and patience. Does it matter that one condition is physical and the other mental? Both take daily courage to inch forward, only to slip back again and again.

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Heroines and heroes are everywhere. Where are yours?

About Jeanne Ellin

I am a poet working at living a creative life in a one room flat, companioned by a menagerie of chronic health problems. I began this series of posts after being inspired by two women younger than myself, who, fearful of their imagined old age spent in ill health and poverty, committed suicide. I explore every year as a bonus of adventures, with moments of discomfort or fear, but with unexpected treasure to be found - helped by a sense of the ridiculous, a world perspective and creativity.