I've written several posts on altruism, the altruist (the true definition of the hero) and the hero, including:
Altruism at the Heart of True Happiness
Gaia vs. Medea: A Case for Altruism
What Altruism in Animals Can Teach Us About Ourselves
The Samaritan Paradox Revisited: The Karma Ran Over the Dogma
Our Obsession with Ownership
Is James Bond an Altruist? – part 2
A Hero’s Journey: the Journey
The Hero’s Journey: Archetypes
The altruist is often not noticed or recognized. The real altruist is undervalued or mistaken for something else. The Real Hero is often misunderstood, feared, and ridiculed or exiled for being different. S/he must often walk a lonely path. Yet the hero shines in the dark face of adversity. They are a bright beacon of hope, leading us through the dark forest of evil or confusion toward a better life and a better world. Not only does the hero reflect our very best selves in times of crises, but they are our catalysts for change and evolution, our inspirational sources. While we may ridicule them in one breath as brazen, foolish or impetuous, or even threatening, we strive to be them, to emulate their qualities and follow in their noble footsteps. Heroes can be mentors, catalysts, and heralds of change. They educate us, challenge us—particularly our complacency and apathy—and they ultimately inspire us. Heroes bring us back to our humanity and show us what we can be.
In any case, it got me thinking about who my heroes are and who your heroes are. So, I created this meme in honor of our heroes:
The Hero Meme:
Here’s how it’s played: those of you who have been tagged are encouraged to name FIVE HEROES in your life with a brief explanation of why they deserve this recognition. Then you need to tag five to ten other bloggers to name their heroes. You and anyone you tag should 1) link to the source post (this one) and 2) to the blog or the person that tagged you (if it’s me then you only need to link here once).
First I’ll give you my personal hero picks. Then I’ll give you my choice of 10 blog-heroes that I’ve tagged to further this worthwhile meme. Even if I haven’t tagged you, I’d love to hear from you. Who are YOUR heroes?
Here are eight of my heroes; each demonstrates to me several important aspects of heroism and altruism:
Altruistic Vervets give alarm calls to warn their group of invading leopards, snakes, and eagles. In doing so, they attract attention to themselves, increasing their chance of being attacked. Because of their being known to destroy crops in Kenya, they have been classified as vermin in South Africa and were shot without a permit until 2003. I honor these courageous and noble creatures. They are the ultimate altruist and ultimate hero: prepared to risk their life for others.
Doctor Lynn Margulis: This scientist had the courage to challenge the current scientific hegemony, based on what she felt and knew was true, and persisted with her theory of endosymbiosis despite being ridiculed by the “ruling” scientific community. She endured two decades of censure only to see her theory finally accepted and reported in every text book on biology. Certain “greats” were compelled to retract their censure, which she accepted with grace and forgiveness. I draw inspiration from this courageous and persevering scientist in pursuit of the truth.
Victor Frankl: Gentle spirit, psychologist and founder of existential logo-therapy, Frankl endured and survived the atrocities of Auschwitz with incredible grace and equanimity. He wrote the profound book “Man’s Search for Meaning” which contained these stirring words: That which is to give light must first endure burning. Frankl referenced Nietzsche, "he who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how," when he argued that what made the difference between those who survived and those who did not was not the intensity of their suffering, but whether or not they retained meaning and purpose in their lives. Amid the degradation and abject misery of a concentration camp, Frankl was able to exercise the most important freedom of all—the freedom to determine one's own attitude and spiritual well-being. Said Frankl, “love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire…The salvation of man is through love and in love.” I honor his deep courage and his merciful compassion for those who tormented him with undue cruelty.
A.E. Whittall: My high school English teacher, who had the courage to be different and led a new movement in English instruction that challenged students like no other teacher had before. He “pushed” me and every other student toward achievements previously unimagined. He did this through his passionate treatment of writing and literature and by creating an even-playing field of mutual respect. He challenged us to think and to challenge him back by courageously offering his own vulnerability and passion. He inspired, cajoled and compelled, openly sharing his heart, his mind, and his spirit. I admire his courageous devotion to opening our minds and hearts toward ultimate expression.
Tesla was a selfless, giving and nonjudgmental spirit of incredible integrity who practiced altruism in his constant attempts to better the world. Despite the cynical and greedy actions of others around him, Tesla prevailed in his faith in humanity until he passed away, a pauper and generally unrecognized by the scientific community. This distinguished, sincere and modest altruist demonstrated great generosity in continually bestowing his gifts of genius to the world.
Here are the blog heroes I’ve tagged:
Kathleen Maher, the Diary of a Heretic
Bob Kingsley, Somerset Bob's Place
Jean Luc Picard, Captain Picard's Journal
Heather Dugan, Footsteps
Princess Haiku, Princess Haiku
Dcr, DCR Blogs
Manchild, When Least Expected
Jennifer Rahn, Random Synaptic Transfers
Lynda Williams, Reality Skimming
Toulouse LeTrek, Toulouse LeTrek
Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of novels, short stories and essays. She coaches writers and teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. For more about Nina’s coaching & workshops visit www.ninamunteanu.me. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for more about her writing.