Where Are the Heroes?
The last decade has seen a rapid de-escalation of the publics trust of religious leaders, politicians, educators and community leaders. The Royal Commission has exposed unprecedented sexual abuse of minors by the church and other institutions. Politicians are argumentative, combative and come across as privileged and disconnected from every day life. Most pastors/religious leaders are out of touch with the post modern world and the institution of the Church in general is no longer trusted, nor is it held in the place of honour it once was in the community.
Issues of safety, gender, equality, privilege, power and the abuse of these trusts has led to a time in society where ‘the persons in leadership’, who once held high the moral compass, are now held in disregard, suspicion and with much cynicism. As my Nana used to say: “Oh how the mighty have fallen”.
The community at large is frustrated by inequality, mismanagement and fraudulent behaviour.
Where are our heroes? The ones we can trust to lead us. The ones who put the nation and community above their own agendas.
I have compiled a small list of Aussie leaders and their signature quotes which express what they stood and fought for. As John Howard famously said, “The things that unite us are greater than the things that divide us.” We must remember this.
CHIFLEY, BEN 1885-1951
He strove to better the lot of ordinary people with a combination of public and private enterprise. He said: “We have a great objective – the light on the hill – which we aim to reach by working for the betterment of mankind … If it were not for that, the labour movement would not be worth fighting for.”
BROWN, BOB 1944-
Born in Oberon, Robert Brown became a doctor and then a conservationist, leading the fight against the damming of the Franklin River in Tasmania and spreading environmental consciousness as far as Germany and the Greens Party. Australian of the Year in 1982, he shared in 1990 the US Goldman Foundation’s environment prize, the world’s richest. “Wild places connect us to the universe,” he says. “There are no answers written on stone. But in the stones, the trees, the skies, is fulfilment for humanity.”
DUNLOP, WEARY 1907-1993
His tireless work made him a hero in World War II, along with other doctors, on the Burma-Thailand “death railway”, where he defied Japanese officers to save PoWs. He promoted friendship between Australia and Asian nations and was Australian of the Year in 1977. He said of the prisoners, 50 years after the war: “To this day I feel uplifted and borne up by their unquenchable spirit and patient endurance of suffering.”
MABO, EDDIE 1936-1992
Born on Mer, in the Torres Strait, Eddie Koiki Mabo made up for his lack of education with tenacity and a formidable intellect. Upholding his claim for native title to the Murray Islands, the High Court overturned the doctrine of terra nullius, the legal fiction that Australia was unoccupied before European settlement. Mabo, pronounced Ma’bo with emphasis on the second syllable, died a few months before the judgment. He had said: “My family has occupied the land for hundreds of years before Captain Cook was born.”
STREET, JESSIE 1889-1970
Born in India, Jessie Mary Grey Street graduated from Sydney University in 1910, joined the League of Nations Union and feminist organisations. She joined the Australian delegation to the conference that established the United Nations and successfully lobbied for a charter for women’s rights. She campaigned for the 1967 referendum on Aboriginal rights. She quoted Emerson: “God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose … You can never have both.”
WRIGHT, JUDITH 1915-2000
Was one of Australia’s foremost poets. She wrote biography, short stories and children’s books and campaigned for conservation and the Aborigines. She said: “The mateship ingredient in Australian tradition was always and necessarily one-sided; it left out of account the whole relationship with women.”
It is 2019 and across all areas of society women are still under-represented. The Chinese say “they hold up half the sky”, but relatively few made their presence felt in the distribution of power and influence until the last three decades of the 20th century. But change is slowly coming. So slow that if we continue at this present rate it will take 200 years for women to earn the same amount of wages as men doing the same job.
Where are the heroes? They are out there I am sure of it. They look a lot like you and me. The ones who will stand up and make a difference. Who are willing to wade upstream against the current and who are able to confront the status quo and make a change. People do not like change. They may acknowledge that it is needed but they rarely like it when it comes.
What makes a hero?
“A hero is someone who can be looked up to for their actions. Bravery is usually the biggest trait of a hero. This person has usually overcome huge obstacles to survive or to rescue others. Heroes come in all sizes. Sick children, grown firefighters, doctors, missionaries, philanthropists are all examples of heroes.”
What makes a true leader? Lets look at just three core values.
as demonstrated by a sense of humbleness, dignity and an awareness of one’s own limitations; open to perspectives different from one’s own.
as demonstrated by moral courage, ethical strength, and trustworthiness; keeping promises and fulfilling expectations. It still takes honesty and integrity to breed trust and credibility – the cornerstone of strong relationships.
as demonstrated by self-respect and respecting others regardless of differences; treating others with dignity, empathy and compassion; and the ability to earn the respect of others.
If we had leaders demonstrating just these three values the world would be a better place. Accompanying these of course is love, wisdom, courage, tenacity and endurance.
If you are a follower of Christ you have the greatest responsibility as a change agent. Jesus said ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand’. This means that it is here now. Not in 10 years or 1000 years but now. The presence of God is within us. The ability to love, bring peace, truth and justice is within us and is at hand. It is not a distant reality. The time that Jesus spoke of when the blind would see and the oppressed would be set free is now.
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.
This cartoon could say: Get Love, Wear Love, Fly…………
Brian Mc Laren says it this way:
‘The time has come today to cancel debts, to forgive, to treat enemies as neighbours, to share your bread with the hungry and your clothes with the naked, to invite the outcasts over for dinner and to confront the oppressor. Not with sharp knives but with unarmed kindness’.
Imagine if followers of Christ actually did what they were supposed to do and followed the way that Jesus loved, freed, healed and included people. The world would definitely be a better place. It’s time for the Christian to come out from behind the walls of the church and actually practice the gospel of Jesus to a scared and anxious world. Stop talking and teaching it and start doing it people. Be the hero your neighbour and workmate is looking for. Connect with your neighbours with unarmed kindness and NO AGENDA but love and friendship.