Who are your heroes? Do you have any? Of all the people who have ever lived, which one would you pick as outstanding? Is distinguished courage only found on battlefields? Or are playgrounds, meeting rooms and the family home places where human actions can burn brightly as stars?
Magazines and history books are full of idols, champions and model citizens that conquer our imaginations and hearts. In fashion the late Alexander McQueen was a visionary. His clothes were wearable art as if Da Vinci had returned to try his hand at something new. He is my fashion hero for fusing form with flair, style with substance, the surreal and the material. In music I look to Beyoné for sheer talent and power with heart, although eclipsed by Bowie for pure originality and creative soul. In literature can we surpass Charlotte Brontë’s character, Jane Eyre, who lets passion and self-belief be her guiding light over pressure from those she most admires and loves?
We don’t always need global acclaim to be a hero. I like to imagine that in every schoolyard a child takes the high road simply because that it is right. They pick the strange child to join their team even when the others are gunning for their best mates. Or, on every floor at city scrapers a shy person pitches their idea at a meeting; they are intimidated by the experts and business leaders around the table, but do what they need to using every ounce of their courage. Or maybe a parent lets their grown-up child learn worldly wisdom by letting them live their own way, even when they foresee the consequences. Letting go of a longstanding role is tough and brave and something all parents face as their children become adults.
On the news we are encouraged to look to soldiers as our heroes: for making the tough choices, for doing the dirty deeds for the rest of us to live, a message reinforced through every town and suburb with the lists of dead young men inscribed on public stones. Valourous they may be, they are not the only heroes that we have, or that we need.
There are people who vanquish terror and win for the greater good without getting awarded medals or stars of gold because there is not a war zone in sight. They might be someone you live with, someone in the community or someone you have only heard about. Nevertheless, by being their best they are equally great and deserving the honorary of hero.