I have a great story about heroes!
A Few weeks ago we had a speaker on campus from Haudenosaunee people, of the
Iroquois. He was talking about heroes. In the Haudenosaunee tradition a
person who displays certain attributes is given the name of a hero, this is
the traditional name given from generation to generation for a person with
heroic attributes. When this person dies, the name is passed on to the next
member of the tribe who displays the attributes. There may be many
different heroes, identified by their attributes, not necessarily their
personality or individual accomplishments.
This is the complete opposite to heroes in the Western tradition. We tend to
look a persons individual accomplishments and laud those. When that person
dies, we memorialize them and their heroic attributes, in doing so we set people
up on pedestals that it is really hard to then convince ourselves that we could
match. They in essence become super-human. Look at Martin Luther King for
example or Ghandi. It is hard to convince students that they were just people
doing what they thought best, not some magical mystical icons that we should
praise but not aspire to be like, because we think we can't possibly do those
When our speaker told the story of Haudenosaunee hero's I was quite taken
aback by this difference! We could learn a lot from our Native American
sisters and brothers.
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