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DUTY AND HEROISM: The Diva Syndrome
I want to talk about something I call the “Diva Syndrome”. Diva syndrome is basically the need to define everything in its best terms whether it deserves it or not. What do I mean by this? The word “diva” literally means “a talented female singer”. In Italian, it basically means “goddess”.
By that definition, I would consider the following female singers “divas”: Barbara Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Etta James, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Cher, and most likely, Madonna. Now there are many more on that list, but I’m trying to show the caliber of singers that hold that high list. They represent the best. Is Nikki Minaj a diva? No Miley Cyrus? No… never! Maybe Pink… one day. Maybe Mariah Carey… soon. And so on.
All that needs to be said is that we have begun to discard words that represent the highest standards of performance or ideals and apply them to less exemplary people. That’s not to say that some people don’t deserve to be recognized for their worth, but using words like “diva” or “hero” on everyone diminishes the value of the term. It’s like last place trophies. What is the value of a first place trophy if everyone gets a trophy for participating? Much less, I dare say.
Today, in a sincere attempt to appear patriotic or socially responsible, people (and especially the news media) throw the word “hero” around as if true heroism is common and I assure you it is not. . True heroism means sacrificing one’s life to save others. To be a hero is to stand up to corruption and fraud without sacrificing your own comfort and safety. However, today the world is full of pseudo heroes. By those who benefit from it or their cause is high because they identify with who they claim to be.
Today we declare the members of our army as “heroes”. Let me be clear, I respect the men and women of the armed forces, but I cannot support the blanket use of the term “heroes” without respecting those who have sacrificed their lives to save others. reduce others, do. Members of the armed forces are paid to do a job and they do it well, no doubt. But at the end of the day it’s still a job and my concept of heroism does not include those who show up for work. The same goes for police, firefighters and paramedics. Of course that includes medical personnel who are paid very well to save lives. This is their job and we expect them to do it. That’s right, then a cook at a fast food restaurant is as heroic as a soldier because he shows up and does his job. There is no difference. Can a soldier be killed? So there’s a fry-up, but if that lowly cook foils a robbery attempt and gets shot in the process, he’s likely to be killed. Later, he became a hero.
Heroism should not be confused with duty. Duty is your duty to do your job or fulfill your responsibilities. They are expected to do their duty. You are not rewarded with that reward to earn a paycheck or receive some praise for being honest. A soldier is paid to do a job. It is their duty to do that. If it means harming them, then it is their duty. Being a hero means going above and beyond the call of duty. To do what most others would not dare to do.
I had the privilege of meeting a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient at a social function a few years ago. This man, a medical helicopter pilot, was responsible for saving the lives of about ten soldiers caught in a gun battle in Vietnam. Without considering his own safety, when he took hundreds of bullets in his helicopter, he took the wounded soldiers out of the clearing. When other helicopters didn’t risk returning to the area to trap more soldiers, he continued to return. He took them all out. His helicopter was so badly shot up that he could not make another trip. He took six .50 cal. He was shot in the leg, arm and chest while flying. He didn’t need to do any of this. In fact, he was ordered to return to the base but he refused to leave those soldiers stranded. This is a case of extreme heroism. Calling all soldiers heroes belittles the term reserved for men like that helicopter pilot.
A duty is a duty to fulfill an obligation or an oath. Heroism is going “above and beyond the call of duty.” The list of great heroes of history is long and impressive. Great leaders, politicians, activists, and inventors of all kinds can claim the title. But more than the great names of history, it is the unsung heroes of everyday life who deserve our admiration the most. A common person who stands up not because of his duty but because of love and compassion for his companions.
The best example I can think of is Rachael Beckwith who wanted to raise $300 by the age of nine to help bring clean water to people in poor countries. Tragically he was killed in a car accident in 2011, $80.00 short of his goal after only being 9 years old. Her cause and death inspired many others to join the fundraising effort to provide clean drinking water to impoverished areas around the world. Today, through the efforts of that charitable organization: water, it has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars and brought clean drinking water to villages such as the Bayaka tribe in the Central African Republic.
When the 9-year-old girl learned that there is no clean water for people to drink, she said, “I don’t want a birthday party, I don’t want gifts, I just want clean water for people.” It is the voice of a true hero. A little girl who touched the lives of people she didn’t even know.
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#DUTY #HEROISM #Diva #Syndrome