19 May 2018

Ethiopia: Keep Walking - Who's Your Hero, Heroine?

Pageantry of Ethiopian heroic patriots

We have celebrated the 77th victory day two weeks before by commemorating the five years unflinching struggle of our patriots against the fascist Italian forces. It was a victory, which proved Ethiopians once again would never submit to any colonial power after the battle of Adwa.

The nation is blessed with many brave heroes and heroines well known for their glories deeds on different historical periods from ancient times until present. It could be hard to have enough space on any paper, or any page to list down our heroes and heroines along with their deeds.

When people discuss the meaning of heroism, they come up with different versions of definitions. Some could stick to the reality that heroes and heroines are only those who fought or sacrified themselves on battle for the freedom of their country. Some simply say it is just sacrificing oneself for the sake of others. For others heroism is just thinking positive.

Now could all these definitions of heroism be enough? I don't think so because all the deeds what heroes do are not limited in numbers and heroism could be seen from numerous perspectives.

Anteneh Zewude

The undeniable reality is that heroes and heroines are born every day in every corner of the world.

Our great grand fathers and mothers have protected this blessed country and handed over to the generation that came after and those generations to others until present days as they lived in harmony with diversity. Their heroic essence could mostly be categorized on the glorious histories of warriors and freedom fighters.

However, Anteneh Zewude, a young resident in Addis Ababa told The Ethiopian Herald that there are so many realities one could see behind the wars our great grandparents fought and the battles they won. "There have been love, passion, sympathy, forgiveness and mercy. Even if they fought against their enemies aggressively and they were victorious with too much bloodshed and loss of many lives, they had been providing medical attention for the wounded, food and water for the surrendered enemy soldiers. They even treated them well during their stay in the country and not as war captives. This reality was witnessed after the victory of Adwa," he noted.

But the essence of heroism for the current generation has different values and a hero or heroine for Anteneh could not be limited on making self-sacrifice for others. He said a hero or heroine to him is the one who struggles hard and achieves to manage his/ her life. "It is not about getting on top of everything but understanding the meaning and purpose of life and working hard to leading ones own and his/ her families' lives with happiness and joy," he said.

And I have to ask him if he was saying as long as one succeed to manage his/ her own and the families' lives with joy, it does not bother him what everybody else goes through?

Worku Kebede

He said no, but this is a time of competition and one has to survive for him/ herself in order to care for others.

Worku Kebede, another young resident of Addis, said heroism to him is being compassionate. "No matter what their professions would be, whatever skills they have, how much they get paid and successful they could be, people who serve others with compassion and who are satisfied by it or never complain about life are my heroes or heroines," stressed Worku.

He also noted that when someone gave good service and satisfied his/ her customers, compliment would be inevitable and that would make him/ her a hero/ heroine.

The professional tennis player Arthur Ashe once said "True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost"? This saying could match the idea of heroism that Worku believed in.

All of the ideas shared by these young men of course have their own concrete value and could be true for many people. One way or another their thoughts are closely related to being human.

And when we are human, we think about the wellbeing of ourselves and others as well as mother nature. Therefore, those who support themselves and their families are heroes/ heroines. Those who help blind people cross the streets are the same. The ones who never forget others on their prayers are heroes/ heroines. Volunteering on different social activities is the essence of heroism for our generation. Planting trees and cleaning our environment could never be anything else but heroism.

Meanwhile, I have observed that some lazy and ungrateful young fellows misinterpreting or confusing the essence of heroism with their shameful realities of failure. As they considered themselves or others heroes/ heroines one could hear such people say "I'm a real thug, I am or Mr X is a real smoker or alcoholic or a killer, she is a bad chick ... " These are people with ruined morals and they need real heroes and heroines to bring them back to humanity.

Even though Anteneh and Worku have their own qualities and achievements they made to some extent based on their understanding of heroism I asked both if they considered themselves as heroes. They both said "No, we have much left to do and we are not heroes yet".

Well modesty is also heroism.

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