Scotsman.com : Beckham, Bono and Rowling are our choices for heroes of the agelundi 21 avril 2003 / par Dom
by JILL STARK
Source : Scotsman.com
THEIR faces are beamed across the world in an age of 24-hour television coverage.
Worshipped as inspirational icons, their tenacious spirit teaches us that anything is possible. In a new poll compiled by Time magazine, the modern-day European hero has been dramatically redefined.
No longer the brave warrior fighting for freedom on the battlefield, today’s hero is more likely to be found kicking a ball at Old Trafford. The cult of celebrity has rocketed sports stars like David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane to worldwide fame - now they are heroes.
Nominated for their "inspirational qualities", the footballers have been included in a list of 35 European heroes.
But it’s not just their media-friendly profiles we admire - they are also honoured for their charity work.
Included alongside peace activists and AIDS campaigners is Jamie Oliver, the television chef who took on the seemingly impossible task of turning 15 unemployed youngsters into working chefs.
The Irish rock star Bono, who has used his kudos as a hugely successful musician to open doors from the Vatican to the White House, was also a popular choice. Championing the causes of those without a voice in Africa, he has become a one-man campaign machine.
As the Dublin-born rock star said : "I know how absurd it is to have a rock star talk about debt relief or HIV/AIDS in Africa, but if not me, who ?"
Roger Daltrey, the frontman for the Who, also gets a mention for his charity projects in aid of teenage cancer.
Author JK Rowling makes the hero list not only for the stratospheric success of the Harry Potter stories, but for the time she invests helping terminally ill children.
Amanda Ripley, a reporter with Time, said : "Over the years, she [Rowling] has made a habit of corresponding with a handful of terminally ill children. She writes e-mails, sends stuffed animals and whispers hints of what is to come in the next book. These children are the only ones who ever know anything about them in advance."
Not forgotten, however, are the everyday people who make a difference without the benefit of a million dollar bank balance and worldwide media profiles.
Caoimhe Butterly, the Irish anti-war protester, proves that old-fashioned attributes are still valued in our modern age. Her strong principles have taken her to some of the world’s most dangerous trouble spots.
At 24, she has worked with AIDS victims in Zimbabwe, been hit by a bullet in the Jenin refugee camp on the West Bank, and staged a sit-down protest inside Yasser Arrafat’s besieged compound in Ramallah.
Other campaigners honoured are Carine and Gino Russo, the Belgium children’s rights activists, Natasa Kandic, a peace campaigner from Serbia, and the conflict mediator Andrea Riccardi of Italy. Two Swedish models, a German actress and a Romanian poet are also nominated for their hero status in their home countries.
Jim Ledbetter, the senior editor of Time Europe, explained the selection process : "Our reporters are based all over Europe and we asked them to identify the individual personalities who were most respected and looked up to in their territories."
The European heroes issue is out today.