What makes a hero?

opinion April 23, 2013 00:00

By Achara Deboonme

91,422 Viewed

Asked this question, Marvel Comics fans might say bravery. Transforming from an ordinary man, Spider Man does not fear bad guys, having his sticky web and fast speed to support himself. Forget about Thor, who is god-like, but we also love Captain America

Do a Google search on “what makes a hero” and you will find some valuable comments from www.ask.com.

        “A hero can be a person that saves lives and stuff, but a hero can be anyone that does something they have fear of but are brave enough to still do something. Examples: Batman, Iron Man and all of them.” Certainly, this must be a fan of Marvel Comics.
Well, another answer highlights the heroic quality in every human being.  “A hero is someone who can be looked up to for their actions. Bravery is usually the biggest trait of a hero. This person has usually overcome huge obstacles to survive or to rescue others. Heroes come in all sizes. Sick children, grown firefighters, doctors, missionaries, philanthropists are all examples of heroes.”
In a world where some people out there are still forced to keep secret their sexual preferences, they would love this: “I think a hero is someone who is open about everything, like being openly gay.”
Hollywood has been a champion in making heroes. Before 2008, few people outside the US knew about the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk. That changed after the 2008 movie “Milk”, starring Sean Penn, who won an Academy Award for the role.
In “Dolphin Tale” we learnt how kids could become heroes by saving a dolphin that was a victim in an accident and lost its tail. 
“Big Miracle” brought us the true story of a two-week international effort to save three grey whales stranded under ice near Alaska in 1988.
Now, I wonder if “Thailiwood” will be interested in making a documentary about the Thai legal team representing the country at the International Court of Justice last week in the case over the disputed Preah Vihear Temple. 
Thais embrace them as national heroes. When the team members, led by Virachai Plasai, arrived back in Thailand on Saturday, a huge crowd greeted them at the airport. Some came with banners saying, “Welcome our hero, Virachai” and “Alina Miron, you’re our hero. We love you”. Admiration for them was all over the social media.
Before officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government agencies are saddened by thoughts of public ignorance, Suan Dusit Poll showed 35.59 per cent of poll respondents were pleased with their evidence and 22.04 per cent with the help from all parties. Certainly, that should warm those officials, who had to help unearth and supply evidence as much as 50 years old. 
The admiration for them is undeniably incomparable to that towards the Thai legal team. The public’s admiration is so great that we might need to feel worried for them. In a world driven by social media forces, sentiments can spin in a different direction in a matter of hours.   
When an article on the legal team’s return to Thailand was posted on Facebook/Nationnews, it drew a valid comment from Greg Reid: “I wonder what will happen to the legal team when they lose? I’m sure the Thais will blame these pale-faced lawyers.”
He understands well what lies ahead for Thailand concerning the Preah Vihear case. Indeed, Virachai apparently took a note. He thanked all Thais for their support. Asked whether Miron, a Romanian, knew of her popularity here, he simply said, “It has been acknowledged.” 
Twenty eight per cent of Suan Dusit Poll’s respondents are right to fear that the Preah Vihear case might not go in favour of Thailand. Worse, they fear it may sour Thailand’s relations with Cambodia. 
Although pleased with the Thai team’s performance last week, King Prajadhipok’s Institute research director Thawilwadee Bureekul also expressed her concern about this. She said the dispute has sparked nationalism. Several old photos have been circulated on the social media, like the one showing Silpa Bhirasri and his students during the renovation of the ruined temple. 
“The thing everyone must understand is that Thailand and Cambodia are neighbours, and are bound to cooperate in upholding peace in Asean. Both sides have their own evidence. It’s the government’s duty to neutralise conflicts,” Thawilwadee said.
It is expected that the ICJ will rule on the case later this year. Virachai and his team are heroes for now. Along the way, many more heroes must appear with the courage to neutralise cross-border conflicts. Local residents along the border – who packed belongings last week, ready for emergency evacuation in case violence erupted – are waiting for them. 
Yes, a hero can be “someone who you can look up to”. And that “someone” can be anyone brave enough.