What Makes a Hero? Part 2 or 2

In Conclusion, I think there are heroes around us every day. We just don’t notice them because they don’t fit the average definition of a hero.

The Oxford Dictionary says a hero is “a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities: [for example] a war hero.

The Urban Dictionary offers seven definitions and some may surprise you. Here are three of them:

2. A hero is someone who gets a lot of OTHER people killed.

3. Someone who helps without anything expected return. Their gesture may be big or small, profound or not, it doesn’t make im’ any less of a hero.

6. A man or woman willing to sacrifice themselves to help others without the consideration of their own safety.

I think the policeman who risks his life to save others; the fire fighter who runs into a burning building to save another person; the soldier who risks life and limb to save his fellow buddies in combat are the easy heroes to identify.

But I’m not talking about these heroes.  I’m talking about the mothers and fathers who get up and go to jobs that may not pay much, are tedious, boring but do it anyway because that’s what it takes to put food on the table and pay the rent. And I’m talking about the mothers and fathers who—no matter how tired they are after a long day at work—are involved in their child’s life; know what that child is doing at school; supports the teachers and spends quality time every day in meaningful conversation with his or her child. That might mean turning the TV off and hiding the iPod, and video games and smartphones.

A hero might be a homeless person who finds a wallet/purse with thousands of dollars in it and returns it to the owner without taking a cent. When honesty is carried to that extreme, isn’t that also an example of heroism?

I think some heroes are individuals who stand up in public and dare to speak out against popular, political correctness [I’m not talking about uneducated opinions] knowing they may face harsh criticism from political/religious groups that disagree with them. Instead, he or she stands firm on his or her beliefs and refuses to be bullied—as long as he or she is not acting out of ignorance and/racism and knows what he or she is talking about.

An example of this type of hero would be Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani student who was shot in the head by the Taliban after speaking out for education rights for girls, because every country; every culture has its own brand of political/religious correctness, but that doesn’t mean it is right.

What do you think it takes to be a hero?

Return to or start with What Makes a Hero? Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

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What Makes a Hero? Part 1 or 2

I’m going to start this post with a disclaimer, because my wife was on the panel that discussed this topic in Washington D.C. during the Daily Beast’s 2nd annual Hero Summit held on October 10, 2013. I also have an opinion on what makes a hero and will share my thinking in the conclusion of this post that will appear November 12, 2013.

This closing discussion of the Daily Beasts 2nd annual Hero Summit examined many aspects of courage—physical, moral, political, even intellectual. Note: I suggest you click on the previous link, scroll down and read the comments.

The panelists included General John Allen, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.). Allen quoted Lord Moran from memory: “If you know a man of character in peace, you will know a man of courage in war.” Heroism is about those people who are “willing to sacrifice everything, everything for the principles they hold most dear,” said Allen.

Allen clearly was thinking of the men and women—his soldiers—still in the field. “Less than one percent of the population is involved in the defense of this nation,” said Allen. They fight, they risk their lives every day and often in corners of the world that the rest of the United States has forgotten.

“We fail to talk about the routine heroism,” said Allen. Those soldiers—that professional military—is made up of people “who truly are keeping the wolf from the door.”

The second panelist was David Brooks, a New York Times columnist. Brooks talked about “the heroism of everyday life,” and especially the need to confront oneself, to battle against your own sin and weakness.

The third panelist was Anchee Min, my wife.  “The home front is the real battle,” said the author of The Cooked Seed  and Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Courage, in her life, included standing up to her very American daughter, enlisting her when she was young in the work of survival—buying her tools and a book about plumbing on her birthday—and driving her to earn good grades.

The fourth panelist was Wole Soyinka—Professor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria—who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. He spoke of his admiration of all those young people, especially those young women, who are fighting for an education against horrendous odds in places like Nigeria, Somalia, Mali and elsewhere.

The moderator of the panel was Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Senior Correspondent and Associate Editor of The Washington Post; author of Little America: The War Within The War For Afghanistan

Continued on November 12, 2013 in What Makes a Hero? Part 2

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Unwanted Heroes – Part 1/4

Disclaimer: Lloyd Lofthouse is the editor/publisher of Alon Shalev’s Unwanted Heroes, and for a few days, we will showcase the first three chapter of his novel about surviving with PTSD.

Unwanted Heroes brings together an elderly, battle weary Chinese American war vet and an idealistic and pretentious young Englishmen, who share a love for San Francisco, coffee and wine. They soon discover further common ground when repressed memories abruptly surface, cementing an unlikely relationship that just might release each from the tragic pasts that bind them.

When Will Taylor finds employment as a barista at The Daily Grind in the Financial District, he feels inspired to write his breakout novel. Walking the streets of Kerouac and Ginsberg, Taylor discovers the harsh side of America and an injustice he must try and help right before he loses his sanity and love.

When his boss suddenly disappears, Will needs all the help he can find. A homeless professor, precariously balanced between intellectual pinnacles and mental abyss, offers advice and contacts. Taylor’s Goth girlfriend initiates him into the West Coast counter culture, while her Nob Hill father digs up his own military nightmares to help another haunted soldier in desperate straits.

The unique culture of San Francisco lends itself to the comical aspects of the novel, offset in a rollercoaster of emotions as comic follows tragic. Will finds himself dining with his Goth girlfriend and her parent at their home on Nob Hill and teaching them how to toast in twelve languages. In the next scene, he is frantically searching a military graveyard at night, looking for his boss who has suddenly disappeared for a second time.

Unwanted Heroes confronts the issue of homelessness and, in particular, war vets who could never readjust into society. This novel is a tribute to a beautiful, unique and quirky city, its people, and those who sacrificed so much to keep it and America free.

Continued on February 18, 2013 in Unwanted Heroes – Part 2

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Growing up in London, Alon Shalev has been a political activist since his early teens. He strives through his writing to highlight social and political injustice and to inspire action for change.

Moving to Israel, he helped establish a kibbutz where he lived for 20 years and served in the Israeli army.

Shalev then moved to the San Francisco Bay area and fell hopelessly in love with this unique city. Being new to the US, however, he was shocked to see so many war veterans on the streets. He regularly volunteers at initiatives such as Project Homeless Connect and the San Francisco Food Bank where he meets and talks with war veterans.

You may buy Unwanted Heroes at Amazon.com

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Follow”.

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest superhero of them all?

Smithsonian.com published The Psychology Behind Superhero Origin Stories by Robin Rosenberg.

Rosenberg says, “As a clinical psychologist who has written books about the psychology of superheroes, I think origin stories show us not how to become super but how to be heroes, choosing altruism over the pursuit of wealth and power.”

Rosenberg says, “I’ve found that superheroes undergo three types of life-altering experiences that we can relate to.”

1. trauma

2. a life altering force is destiny

3. sheer chance

“At their best,” Rosenberg says, “superhero origin stories inspire us and provide models of coping with adversity, finding meaning in loss and trauma, discovering our strengths and using them for good purpose.”

Reading Rosenberg’s piece in Smithsonian after watching “To Whom it May Concern, Ka Shen’s Journey” the previous night helped me understand his explanation. Ke Shen’s Journey was a documentary on the life of Nancy Kwan.

You may remember Kwan in “The World of Suzie Wong” (1960), or “Flower Drum Song” (1961). And in 1961, she won a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer in film.

In fact, Kwan’s father was a hero. During World War II, he was a spy for the British and when the Japanese discovered what he was doing, he took his two, infant children and fled Hong Kong disguised as a Chinese peasant. Another Chinese spy working for the British in Hong Kong wasn’t so fortunate. He was caught and beheaded by the Japanese.

For Kwon, her life altering experience was the loss of her only child, a son from her first marriage. Bernie died at age 33 in 1996. He contracted AIDS from his girlfriend whom Kwan had cautioned him to avoid.

Bernie had unprotected sex with the girl he loved. He didn’t use a condom. The girlfriend died of AIDS first and Bernie stayed by her side and cared for her to the end. Eventually, when the virus threatened his life, he moved home so his mother and stepfather could care for him, and they watched the son they both loved die slowly over a period of three years as he wasted away.

Today, almost age 75, Nancy Kwan actively supports the study of AIDS and the promotion of AIDS awareness.

I think Rosenberg is right, because I’m convinced that what he explains is one reason why I joined the U.S. Marines and later became a classroom teacher in a barrio high school populated by violent street gangs. I made a choice. We all make choices, but why do we make such choices?

For me it wasn’t trauma—at least I don’t think so—that motivated me to join the U.S. Marines. I think it was the role models I saw in Hollywood films. For example, John Wayne’s movies. By the time I joined the Marines in 1964, John Wayne had been in 158 films. A few that stick in my head are: The Fighting Seabees; Back to Bataan; They were Expendable; Fort Apache; She Wore a Yellow Ribbon; Sands of Iwo Jima; The Horse Soldiers; The Alamo, and The Longest Day, etc.

Of course, no film compares to the reality of combat and coming home from war with PTSD and/or recovering from a severe combat wound. Those factors are also a life altering force.

It seems to me that there are a lot of people in America that are not inspired to be a hero or altruistic.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says that 8.1% of the U.S. population are veterans. In addition, the NY Times reported that less than 1% of the American population is serving in the active military.  What does that tell us about the rest of America—not counting the physically and mentally disabled, police, teachers and firefighters?

Discover John Kerry, Purple Hearts, PTSD and WMD

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”