To suggest that we should be heroes, and that the world needs more aid worker heroes is to call for more style, packaging, and messaging, and less substance.
…it’s the sidekicks and faithful servants who hang in there day-to-day keeping Superman honest (Lois Lane), The Lone Ranger on his horse (Tonto), getting Batman out of jams (Robin), keeping Sherlock on task (Dr. Watson), and making sure that James Bond is forever flush with awesome gadgets (Q.).
The vast majority of us live more like sidekicks in the hero myths and legends… Because sidekick jobs are the jobs which need doing. I frequently find myself saying to the interns and new hires who ask me for informational interviews (as well as my own full-time team from time to time): “If you want adventure, sign up for an adventure tour. If you want to save lives, get the Flash Appeal proposal done by tomorrow.” (or “make sure the report is in the proper format,” “make sure all the formulas in the spreadsheet are correct,” or “be on time for the NFI cluster meeting,” or… or…)
…real aid work (or any work for that matter) is hard and frequently not exciting. Real aid work requires focus and teamwork…*
Real heroes as Tina Turner sings of them spring forth:
Out of the ruins
Out from the wreckage…
…the ones they left behind
and I wonder when we are ever gonna change
living under the fear…
And yes maybe real heroes don’t need to know the way home because home is what they build right where they are.