When we think of heroes we often think of champion sportsmen or outstanding political leaders. But heroes and heroines can be found in the most unexpected places; it's all a matter of perception.
Think of those civil servants, who still exist, who go down to do a job of work, day after day, for a modest remuneration and despite the most unpromising surroundings and in the presence of others who are not pulling their weight do their job conscientiously and diligently. Properly understood, that is a heroism of service, a commitment to the public weal that is sometimes innate and unreflective but always admirable and sacrificial. Many dedicated teachers and nurses fall into this category; they do their jobs day after day to the best of their ability and without complaint.
Then there is a heroism of love, often found in parents, including single-parents who bear a special burden. Mothers and fathers work long hours uncomplainingly, save and make sacrifices to give their children the best they can, often at the expense of their own well-being. And many children cherish and look after their parents in their declining years, whatever the inconvenience.
There are nuns who run orphanages despite their advancing years, there are some who serve selflessly in charitable organisations, year after year, there are those who help the sick and the poor, who have a tradition of public service without reward. There are those who do thankless and unglamorous tasks time after time to the best of their competence. There are those who endure the tedium and squalor of everyday life with a cheerful heart. There are those who delight and comfort their fellow-men with their friendly and cheerful spirit, however bleak things may be. There are those who bear serious illnesses and disability with composure. There are those who do the right thing as they see it, whatever the pressures. And there is the young man who stood in front of his sister to shield her from gunmen. That is the heroism of martyrdom.
Si monumentum requiris, circumspice (loosely translated, if you want to see great things look around you). All men and women are heroes in their own way and in their own time, some more than others and some perhaps only briefly. Out of the crooked timber of humanity some beauty and virtue does emerge. It's all a question of how you look and what you see.