Honesty is widely accepted as a prime example of a moral virtue. It builds trust. It builds one’s image. When people are honest, they are relied on. I am not repeating praising honesty or public service. It is a well known hymn, much heard and sung.
Books and movies have also amply co-powered it. I rather have some aversions. Honestly speaking, honesty has turned coronic nowadays, with some incurable variants. These variants have an artificial and a digital texture, set to do a good marketing of a personified honesty.
Public service is more public than service. Struggles are cashed on digital media. As for instance, after qualifying a local state level exam, someone said, “I used to go walking to my school this much distance away from my home.”
I wondered who of us would go by train or plane! If most of us cherish remembering the playful acts while on way to school, why do the heroes feel it painful. If we enjoyed taking long routes to success, why did they need a short cut? Similarly, someone else after coming in job said in his own interview “My salary comes from your tax. I pledge to do this and that for you. I will not do as the predecessors did. I am so and so kind of officer.”
There is a full online stuff, live streaming our local heroes while they dramatise their duties.
Dear heroes, you might have risen from humble backgrounds, might have had been going to school on foot, might not be taking bribe and might be taking initiatives. So what? Are you honest because it fetches you awards and you go viral.
Or are you honest, simply for the sake of it. Duties are sacred. They are done with devotion. Yours is but an exhibition. Remember, if you donate one kidney, you are a hero; if you donate two, then you are a saint but if you are donating 3 and more, then you are automatically a monster and one needs to call police in that case.
Kindly keep a check and balance of your good deeds to demarcate reality from show off. According to Bruce Lee, showing off is the fool’s idea of glory.
Those who show off do not shine. Whatever you gain through self promotion will have to be sustained through self promotion only. Competition is healthy, show off is ugly. Showing off has literally driven the guys crazy.
The Prophet had once said,” You will vie with one another, then you will shun one another and then you will hate one another.” The actual branding does not happen overnight. It needs a life term commitment.
Our Prophet (SAW) had an early on perfection in character, yet he was bestowed with prophet-hood at 40 years of age. Moreover, one can be a brand even without owning a business or having a job. In this world of semi-permanent google records, curiously, the true heroes tend to be anonymous.
They win the battles we are not even aware of. Moreover, a true hero does not always do popular things like honesty; he may also do an unpopular thing because he believes in it. In that context, Hitler is a great hero of the darker side of history who did what he felt right and chose to die in anonymity.
A hero is somebody who voluntarily walks into the unknown. He may be deviant and not always a yes man. In our sacred scriptures, we are encouraged envy that is free from malice. Keenness for this is called competition, and it is praiseworthy in acts of obedience.
The glorious Quran (23:61) says, “They are eager to do righteous works; they compete in doing them.” People also need to build the sense of acknowledgement. No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others.
Poor alone do not suffer nor are the rich always in ease. Let us admire a poor boy that overcomes poverty and becomes an achiever, but let us also value a rich boy who avoided all distractions offered by his illustrious wealth that could have otherwise spoiled him.
Both are heroes and perhaps the latter has won a bigger battle. One yearns for a combination of riches with character and poverty with doing charity.
Unless for show, are they rarely seen. As children, we seek the attention of our parents and teachers, so we do anything to try to impress them. By the way, a boy had asked his Maths teacher if General Calculus was a Roman war hero! When we get a little older, we seek the attention of our peers trying to gain approval and acceptance.
Most of us grow up showing off to others. Some of us resort to poetry and communication skill to make an impression. With or without context, we are ready with borrowed couplets to shower our wisdom. The audience is already sublime, ready with likes and comments.
I am reminded of George Mikes who once said, “In England, only uneducated people show off their knowledge; nobody quotes Latin or Greek authors in the course of conversation unless he has never read them.” Let the literature flow from the literary, science from the scientists; let history keep the account of heroes and we better do our business. I want to democratize heroism by saying that anyone of us can be a hero but be not zeroed to be a hero.
Dr. Qudsia Gani, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Govt. College for Women
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.