Top explorer reveals his thoughts on what makes a true hero

2011-12-14 00:00

HAVING walked around the world and climbed its peaks, Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, or “Ran” to his fans, is Britain’s favourite ageing adventurer as well as “the world’s greatest explorer” in the Guinness World Book of Records.

In My Heroes he first asks what makes a hero and then presents a list of examples that range from stalwarts forgotten in history to current die-hards. Fiennes also acknowledges the hundreds of nameless “line-of-duty heroes”, who bravely do killer jobs, like the technicians who mopped up the swamped Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.

His own experience is that bravery under fire does not come from being heroic, but from the fear of looking like a coward to one’s mates. Conversely, the same “fear of peer disdain” also drove placid Hutus to hack apart more than 800 000 Rwandans, as Paul Ruseabaina, the hero from Hotel Rwanda , explains in this book.

However, “ersatz superstars marketed for their talents or antics”, and “factional political fanatacists” are no heroes. Fiennes expects his politicians to at least be “conscientious objectors whose actions benefit mankind”, like Mallai Joya and ­Morgan Tsvangirai. Joya is a courageous woman who fights for women’s rights against the misogynistic Taliban and Tsvangirai stands against Mugabe’s brutalities in Zimbabwe.

From history, Fiennes’s most selfless hero is the London parlour maid Gladys Aylward, who overcame all odds to become a missionary worker in China, where she earned the nickname “little good woman” — which name the Japanese later placed on wanted posters during their invasion of China.

My Heroes makes for inspiring reading and will make a flattering gift to anyone.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.