Of Heroes and Hyperboles

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.

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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 suffer no fiction to exist for us; to realize all that we know”, and is falteringly attempting to write his own “bible”. He dreams of a day when everyone can freely do so.

Posted on 14 September 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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