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Ukraine: the resurgence of heroism


Published in

Diario de Navarra

Gerardo Castillo

Professor at the School of Education and Psychology at the University of Navarra.

T he Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle lamented that hero worship is disappearing in modern society. He says that ours is a society that denies the existence of great men and does not even aspire to have them. I share this opinion. Today, the myth of the hero has ceased to be reference letter historical and behavioral example, to give way to the banal fictional "heroes" of cartoons and comic books, artificially created for mere entertainment.

Fortunately the Ukrainian people are giving us an injection of optimism. I agree with José M. framework in that very few imagined that the Ukrainians would resist the Russian invasion as they are doing: "Nobody knows how long the resistance will last, but it has already made Ukraine an example and a lesson of courage and independence. And this at a time when we were assured, with commiserative and skeptical laughter, that heroism, honor and even bravery had passed away forever. The courageous, honorable and heroic reaction of the Ukrainians has also changed, in a matter of hours, the new international landscape that Putin had begun to draw with what seemed to be his irresistible "blitzkrieg".

Carlos Herrera is of the same opinion: "The world is amazed and admired by the lesson of patriotism, moral decency, courage and resistance of the Ukrainians in the face of the Russian invasion. And it is restoring the world's faith in the noblest qualities of human beings, including courage, bravery, patriotism, dignity and the fulfillment of the most sacred sense of duty. Today we are all reconciled with the human being thanks to these heroic Ukrainians".

Heroes are usually forged in adversity, growing in the face of difficulties that invite them to give the best of themselves. Professor García de Leániz affirms that they are those who know how to "let themselves be made by hostility", and gives as an example many anonymous men who in the first World War
World War I revealed themselves at the front as great soldiers: "The maximum adversity of the battlefield stimulated a depth of heroism that they themselves were unaware of. They were heroes surprised by their heroism".

An incident that occurred on an islet in the Black Sea, guarded by a small Ukrainian detachment that confronted a Russian Navy ship, has become an act of heroism for the Ukrainian Government, which has highlighted the courage of the soldiers who died in the incident. As the Russians approached the islet, the Russian officer says: "This is a Russian military warship. I suggest you lay down your arms and surrender to avoid unnecessary bloodshed and casualties. Otherwise, you will be shelled." After hearing the warning, a soldier of the Ukrainian detachment replies, "Russian warship, go to hell." And those were the last known words heard from the island. The 13 Ukrainian border guards stationed on the island died heroically, as confirmed by the president himself, Volodimir Zelenski. He added that they will be awarded the degree scroll Hero of Ukraine posthumously.

The meaning of the word hero is directly related to the idea of sacrifice staff. This sacrifice implies the fulfillment of duty in situations of extreme difficulty, which gives it an exemplary value, as Professor Juan Luis Lorda states: "There are circumstances in life where human dignity can demand great sacrifices; that is, heroism. Sometimes, duty leads us to face pain and death rather than give in to what is unworthy of a man. The history of all cultures is full of exemplary gestures of men who have been able to sacrifice the staff before duties that they considered higher: for the good of their country, for the love of their parents, their spouse or their children, for friendship. With the pride of a culture: they show what their men are worth, and are perennial examples of human quality".

Today's society also needs examples of everyday heroism: that of ordinary people who will not go down in history for a spectacular feat, but who daily, quietly and with great effort, perform their family and professional duties with the greatest possible perfection.