Indonesian (original) version, click here.

Written by Galih Wisnu Brata  – 3rd Winner of AIYA Jakarta Writing Competition 
Translated by Lotte Troost – AIYA National Content Translator

Many people imagine a hero to be someone who fought against colonialism and stood up for independence. This assumption is certainly not wrong, since those who fought for independence are indeed regarded as heroes. They stood up for the people and the state at the expense of their valuable treasures and even their own life. 

In fact, being referred to as a hero is not just meant for those who struggled for independence. At its core, a hero has plenty of definitions. Those who struggled for the independence of the nation are known as national heroes. This title is considered a form of respect for the services and sacrifices given. There are also teachers who are recognized as heroes, without honours. Teachers never get tired of educating and teaching their students a great deal of knowledge. Moreover, teachers bear the burden of being considered a second parent.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, medical staff, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, have been considered heroes.  They work hard to support patients who have been tested positive. This mission requires them to continually wear protective clothing and equipment for a full day. Health care workers are separated from their families to accomplish a noble task.

Similarly, yet many other people may be referred to as a hero. For example, the firefighters who are prepared to help society. The police are also becoming heroes in the fight against various kinds of crimes.

The hero in my life

To me, a hero is someone who supports righteousness and who is willing to help anyone. This definition of a hero I have found in Harjo Dimulyo. He was not known for his great merits or accomplishments, but he was my late grandfather.

He has been my hero, even though few people knew him. He supported me when my father passed away and he cared for me without hesitation. My grandfather realized that he would never be able to replace my father’s position, but he played a huge role in the development of my life.

He always taught various life lessons so that his grandchildren could survive in any situation. My grandfather once said that as humans, we all have limitations, but we are also given the opportunity to learn many things, as simple as just cooking and cleaning up the environment. Those are the values he taught. His words were not merely words, but he also set an example for me.

He always provided good advice, and his children and grandchildren will always recall his messages. He always said that I should respect, be dedicated and not bother my parents and anyone else. Despite his limited religious knowledge, he always encouraged his children and grandchildren to remain passionate about studying religion. Even though he did not receive an education until college, he was always respected at every word he spoke. He was always capable of making a good first impression on each of his conversational partners. Many of his characteristics and behaviours have inspired those who surrounded him. He passed away to the Almighty, but the memory of his heroic value will always remain in the minds of those around him.

Anyone can be a hero

From his words, I also concluded that anyone can be a hero, at least for oneself, which means being courageous in saving oneself from all the wrong things. Each individual should be able to encourage oneself to avoid falling down. 

Once we have succeeded in becoming a hero to ourselves, we can try to become a hero to the people closest to us. You do not have to be pretentious. Just make it simple, yet constant kindness. For example, get used to throwing garbage where it should be and invite others around us to do the same. 

The purpose of becoming a hero is not to be hailed, but rather to try to spread kindness without ever thinking about rewards. All these actions can be initiated from within oneself and then be transferred to the nearest person. I believe that anyone can become a hero, without having to be known by many people.