Children need heroes. They are little and vulnerable. The world is a pretty scary place when you only the size of a small dog and you struggle to get on the sofa by your self. Everywhere children look there is something new and terrifying. They need people they can look up to, who will help them out and never let them down. The problem is it’s hard to find them heroes worth looking up to these days.
I guess that’s why so many children go through the superhero phase. It makes sense. Sometimes it feels like you need superhuman powers to just get through the day intact. Pretending to be their favourite superhero gives them a sense of control. Makes them feel they have the power to protect themselves. It’s also fun, of course. The only problem is that superheroes aren’t real.
The word hero is often bandied around today. It is often used in the context of sport. It’s true a lot of sports stars are brilliant role models. Watching the Olympics and Paralympics this summer there were many athletes I would love my children to emulate. They have dedication, passion and a strong fighting spirit.
But are they heroes?
Perhaps we need a different word for what they are.
To me a hero is someone courageous who has done something particularly brave. Who has saved someone, or risked their life to help someone else in need. Who doesn’t think of themselves but carries on going with what they know to be right, regardless.
There are heroes. Although I’m sure they’d be embarrassed to be called such.
You see, there is a thin blue line which protects the country. Every night while we are tucked up in our beds police officers are out on the streets, unarmed, often in dangerous situations. The news from Manchester last week showed this only too well. They are not highly paid, they work long hours and often don’t get breaks for lunch or even time for a drink, they work shifts which ruin their family lives. It’s their job of course but not many people have a job which could get them shot.
I think the worst part is that they receive so little respect for what they do. I’m always surprised how many people have a poor opinion of the police. Of course there are some thugs, some are heavy-handed and mistakes are made. But I don’t think there’s a job in the country where every single person is brilliant at what they do.
I know one thing. It’s not a job I could do. I’m not brave enough (also I need to be fed and watered at regular points in the day or I get very grumpy).
So I can tell my children there are heroes. There are people out there who would risk their life for you. They are out there now, while I type this in the comfort of my home, filling out hours of paperwork probably, but also chasing someone down a dark alley, picking up an abusive party goer off the street, pulling over a drunk driver, stopping a domestic before it gets ugly, going into a house expecting to a routine incident only to be met with a crazed man with a gun.
One things for sure. I know I’d feel a lot less safe if they weren’t around.