I don’t want to be a hero…


It seems a crisis makes leaders and heroes. People look for support in strong figures, in people who "don't let things fall" when the whole society is trembling on its foundations ...

And suddenly I'm a hero! As volunteer firefighters/ambulance-drivers, we stand in the frontline of the Corona battle. There is applause for so much self-giving of so many in healthcare. And yet: yesterday I rushed to a call for CPR. In (relative) silence. To do what I have to do without being a hero.

Today the same call, the same need, but now suddenly as a hero?

Actually, I don't want to be a hero. After all, you are a hero only if you dream of exceptional achievements that seem to transcend human capacity? I just want to help and be close to where I can. Not more. That's all I can do. And perhaps more is simply not necessary.

I don't need applause. I already feel fully understood when the traffic deviates in time so that we get there quickly... to do what must be done. Isn't it so?

This uncertain time deeply affects people. And there were already many people worried. Anxiety and uncertainty that is no longer hushed by our rushed life, the urge to buy, superficiality and temporary pleasure. If the rush suddenly disappears, then the depth befalls us. So much comes to the surface! Maybe too much and too fast. Anchors and (false) certainties disappear: empty shop shelves ... excuse me?! Major needs and yet no more work ... how come?! Fields full of crops but no more pickers... it cannot be happening, can it? And toilet paper that suddenly is worth more than anything...

I believe the applause is both honest and therapeutic. It shows appreciation and admiration for people who just do their job but are suddenly put in the spotlight by the need. At the same time, it channels the powerlessness we feel: by encouraging caregivers, you are doing something positive. Nothing as bad as having to watch helplessly, I know from spectators during an intervention.

But there is a deeper meaning in this applause. It has become a tangible symbol of universal support to those who tackle and solve problems in times of crisis and uncertainty. To those who dare to keep fighting at the front, even if they have not chosen to do so.

Let us hold on to that and shape it further, because we are at the beginning of much more than this crisis alone. Climate, social inequality, environment, biodiversity, equal rights and opportunities, peace, food and drink, refugees, limited resources,... The challenges are great, global and often insufficiently known, invisible and intangible.

Let us finally rebuild society from the human needs that we now feel so hard. Let that be our collective applause, our binding project, our focus, our choice and our Facebook posts. Get rid of the cheap polarization of "they are bad and we are good", "I can but you can't and "true - not true - fake". We've known for a long time that cheap is not good. Today more than ever.

If we hope now that tomorrow will be better than yesterday, it will not make itself happen. It requires action and support. And consistent behavior. And sometimes even a little sacrifice.

Just go for it!

by Bert