Personal heroes

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Are you my hero?

I planned to write a full post about all my heroes, expecting a long list to jump to mind immediately.

The obvious names came first (obvious, at least, for a person who went through the American school system): Martin Luther King, Jr. Harriet Tubman. Elie Weisel. Anne Frank. But as I thought about these and other historio-mythical figures, they didn’t seem specific enough to my life for me to consider them personal heroes.

So I moved on to geniuses in the fields of my own creative pursuits, i.e. music and literature: Mozart, Handel, Shakespeare, Rushdie. But while I’ve deeply appreciated the works these people have brought into the world, I’m not sure if I would call any writer or musician my hero. They have influenced my life, but none has saved it.

It’s a strange question, that: if anyone has saved my life. Certainly there have been incredibly powerful positive forces. I’ve had wonderful teachers, great friends, and am blessed with the most amazing, supportive family a person could ask for. Have any of them saved my life?

Perhaps. Perhaps my life is the sum of their gifts, and for this I am grateful and awed. But my original prompt was to find a singular, personal hero. I don’t believe I have one. Is this strange? Am I alone in being hero-less?

Do you have a personal hero? What reason is this person(s) your hero?

Princes of peace

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When you look down the list of all Nobel Peace laureates you come across many of the most important names of the twentieth century: Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama (14th), Mother TeresaMartin Luther King, Jr. The notable exception is Mahatma Gandhi, who was nominated in five separate years and may well have won if not for his tragic assassination–Nobel prizes are not awarded posthumously unless the recipient dies after the prize is already announced (a very rare occurrence, but one that did indeed happen this year).

In the 110 years the Nobel prizes have been awarded, there have been twenty years in which the Peace prize was not given to anyone. The longest droughts were from 1914-1918 and 1939-1943, fittingly corresponding with World Wars I and II. (Note: Stalin was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace prize for his efforts to end WWII; Hitler and Mussolini were both nominated once). It would seem perhaps overly ironic and inappropriate to award someone for peace efforts during such war torn eras, yet isn’t that when we need messages of peace the most? The acceptance speeches of Nobel Peace laureates are some of the most wonderful and inspiring words to read and listen to. Following is the audio from MLK Jr’s speech. Check out the rest at the Nobel prize website.