Why we need more heroes
Sir John Swan, the former Premier of Bermuda who recently became the newest national hero to be honoured for services to the island, mentioned how everyone could be a hero by simply staying positive and focus on helping to contribute in many ways to improving life for all.
He seemed to be making the point that all heroes may never be in the spotlight, but that what they do could put the spotlight on others.
Most of us can recall throughout our lives encountering someone who quietly displayed a willingness to help others without fanfare, but mainly because that person believed that an encouraging word could make the difference between success or failure. Sir John credited his parents for not allowing him even to think of failure.
While we congratulate Sir John for his success story in real estate, which enabled others to be a part of that success, the need is always there for more heroes to step up to the plate during these challenging times to ensure that Bermuda is not allowed to drift into a state of crime and negativity.
In today's “rush, rush” climate, success is too often measured by economic or material possessions. There is nothing wrong with having modern-day comforts or getting what some refer to as a piece of the pie, but there is always the danger of paying less attention to values in life that rise above material possessions. A real hero is one who has a vision and is able to stay focused even in the face of criticism or setbacks in trying to turn a vision into reality.
Being a hero often means never shifting from a belief that when something happens that threatens the value structure of good community life, there should be no hesitation to stand firm and to take whatever action is needed to address a problem.
Bermuda's escalating violent crime is one of those problems where more heroes are desperately needed in the fight to stamp out a trend that has deeply troubled just about every law-abiding citizen. In most cases, police are certain there are people with information that could help, but whether it is out of fear, or simply not wanting to be involved, progress is stifled by a lack of full community co-operation when it is needed most.
It did not go unnoticed recently in America, when it was revealed that the man who carried out the carnage in Orlando with the loss of 49 innocent lives, had been reported to the FBI long before he unleashed his demented fury that left a trail of blood and tears. What is significant to note is that while Omar Mateen was Muslim, it was also an American Muslim who took the bold step of alerting the FBI that Mateen was showing signs of extremism in his thinking.
Mohammed Malik who was well acquainted with Mateen was indeed a hero in putting his safety on the line in providing information that he believed would keep the country he loved safer from acts of terrorism, and also that such acts violated his Muslim faith. With calls from presidential candidate Donald Trump to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, it painted all Muslims with the same brush, and that was certainly unfair and wrong. He has since attempted to soften his position on all Muslims being banned, but it is not clear how the Muslim community views that switch, which some feel is more political.
The bottom line here is that Malik was not trying to be a hero in alerting officials about behaviour of a fellow Muslim; instead, he was attempting to be an instrument in safeguarding qualities that he believed made the difference in learning to live peacefully together as people, despite religious or racial differences.
Bermuda is not yet out of the economic troubled waters, with still much work to be done. That work will involve every Bermudian in some way, and no matter how small an effort, each person who tries helps to rebuild our infrastructure.
In that sense, everyone who commits to staying focused for the good of Bermuda will be a hero.