We are living in an age of hyperboles. For those who don’t know what a “hyperbole” is – it is “a figure of speech in which the expression is an evident exaggeration of the meaning intended to be conveyed, or by which things are represented as much greater or less, better or worse, than they really are; a statement exaggerated fancifully, through excitement, or for effect.”

A photojournalist shot dead in Somalia doing his job, in an ill conceived aid mission, is hailed a “national hero” by our Prime Minister, who had to cut shot his trip overseas to attend a press conference on his death (also attended by the Deputy Prime Minister).

I am sorry, but Noramfaizul Mohd Nor was not a “hero”. He was just unfortunate to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

In Greek mythology, a hero was a demigod. Someone, who in the face of great danger and adversity, displayed courage and self sacrifice, for some higher purpose. Someone to look up to and who we could aspire to be.

We may have long descended the heights of Mount Olympus, but surely words like “national hero” should be reserved for true national heroes like Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Tun Sambanthan and others.

When we misuse the word “hero”, we dilute its value and worth. But perhaps this is a sign of the times, when mediocrity passes for excellence.

Ed refuses to be defined by words. He is inspired by the words of Emerson in Representative Man: “We too must write Bibles, to unite again the heavens and the earthly world. The secret of genius is to...

5 replies on “Of Heroes and Hyperboles”

  1. My apologies if i sound offending, i sincerely meant no offense, i hope to stand up for Noramfaizul Mohd Nor. I would agree he is not hero COMPARED to any Greek mythology demi-god.

    I have no idea of his intentions in getting involved in the job. But just being there,not to the mention the potential risk (as happened now) just to report on the status of a war torn country to the world on on the plight of the refugees there.
    I am not sure of how the public view him, but not just doing "kopi tiam" talk & taking actions to try to make a difference is a hero in my eyes.
    RIP Noramfaizul Mohd Nor
    Love from Malaysia

  2. While Noramfaizul Mohd Nor gets hailed as a "hero" for being at the wrong place and the wrong time in a propaganda show, in the background countless of our armed forces don't even get an iota of recognition for their ultimate sacrifice on a daily basis. Many of our soldiers perish in the line of duty while engaged in UN peacekeeping missions in Kosovo and Somalia…these guys (and by extension, their dependants and families) are quickly forgotten. No lifetime pensions and other perks for the families of our true fallen heroes, it seems.

  3. To me, the creation of the "hero" tag was an attempt to divert attention away from an ill-managed propaganda stunt badly led by that Azeez chap, spouted by a PM who had been caught sneaking off to Perth (for "physiotheraphy" konon!) using the expensive VIP jet on Merdeka Day.

    I do not doubt that Noramfaizul as a reporter was dedicated and may even have been brave in the course of carrying out his duties. But "hero" he is not.

    With his (ahem!) Preston University MBA and rather chequered track record, Azeez's credibility is already suspect, to say it kindly. His swaggering responses to the criticism hurled rightly at him with the death has come across more like the loud and bullying attempts to shut his detractors up, rather than righteous defence.

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