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Blog Posted in avatar   André R. Gignac's Blog

Boston Attacks: The never ending heroic nature of society

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By André R. Gignac
Posted Apr 25, 2013 in Lifestyle
After a full afternoon of shopping, the old lady felt very tired (and also very poor). She waited at the bus stop, hoping to get home early enough so she could catch the latest news. Luckily, she didn’t have to wait too long, although once on the bus she saw that it was full, and so she figured she would have to stand for the duration of the trip.
But almost immediately, a young woman, surely in her 20s, stood up and offered a smile to the old lady, while pointing in the direction of the seat she had just vacated. Arriving at her destination, the lady thanked profusely this courageous young woman, while the rest of the crowd on the bus started to applaud a new hero.
Once at home, the lady put the news on, just in time to hear the reports on the Boston explosions, and to watch president Barack Obama declare that police, firefighters and others had responded heroically. She switched to another news channel, where a video showed the news anchor being in awe and unable to find enough words to describe the heroic behaviour of runners and passers-by who offered to help transport some of the injured. These people are heroes, he said.
For about a week, every single person who committed whatever act of kindness - would it be to bring water to first responders, or making sure that people in his or her surroundings were comfortable - was hailed as a hero by news anchors who were supposedly in awe.
There was a time when heroes were, almost exclusively, soldiers. Or they were – still are – in the movies and in comic books. Most of the time, they were dead, and so the government was giving the medals for heroism to the surviving members of their families. They had committed acts of heroism, like fighting alone against fifteen enemy soldiers rushing them with heavy fire.
Nowadays, the simplest act of generosity becomes an act of heroism. Dogs and cats are now called heroes for doing what their instincts make them do. The neighbour who prepares a cup of tea for you because your electricity was shut off is a hero. The media, newspapers and television, see heroes everywhere and dutifully report on them every day.
Have we completely lost our sense of proportion? Are we so not used anymore to acts of kindness that we must rush to mold a medal every time someone does something kind without search for profit? Do we really need medals to act when our humanity is in trouble?
Those who responded “heroically” in Boston would be the very first to say to president Obama, and to the media, that they were just doing their job, for which they are paid and trained; the runners and passers-by who rushed to help the injured after the attacks would also be the first to say that they’re not heroes, but citizens simply doing what anyone of us would expect of our neighbours if we ever find ourselves in trouble.
But you know, it is not really surprising that we would need so many heroes, at such a regular pace, because the truth is that governments, and the media in particular, usually treat people like a bunch of gutless and easily scared infants. Just one example: A video, shown all day long after the Boston attacks, was each time accompanied by a warning in big red letters: “The following contains graphic content that some viewers may find offensive”. You would think that you were about to witness horrible stuff, but all you hear is a bang and all you see is white smoke.
It’s as if we are incapable of facing the realities of the world.
No, this gutless modern society, like the children of our yesteryear, must be over-protected, shown the ways, held by the hand and be regularly fed with stories of heroes. And as heroes go, anything will do.

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