There has been a lot of talk about Jessica Watson around the traps (a phrase which here means that I am too lazy to direct you to all the articles discussing her, but I’m sure you’ve seen some.). She has been described as an attention-seeker, as a risk-taker, as too young, as a record-breaker, as a hero. It is this last word – hero – that seems to stir people up the most.
T he dictionary.com definition of hero: a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
OK – so apart from the “man” part that applies, I guess.
We live in a country that encourages “hero faxes” to its Olympic athletes, so it is hardly surprising that the word ‘hero’ is being used about a 16 year old who performed such an amazing feat of endurance and strength of character. In this context it seems entirely apt.
No she didn’t save lives, and there are many teens and adults quietly doing amazing things every day that are just as worthy of media attention. But I think that nitpicking what she did detracts from the fact that she is inspirational to any young person who has a dream and dares to follow it.
In full disclosure, I was a nay-sayer as Jessica left. I thought it was foolish for a young girl to be risking her life to chase a record. I thought her parents were mad to let her go. But as she has faced the challenges along her journey, I have been turned around to cheering her on. I don’t care if she broke a world record or not, or if she gets money from appearances afterwards. At 16, I didn’t know my arse from my elbow. I was working a crappy McJob, goofing off in class, swooning over boys who barely acknowledged my existence and wasting a fair bit of my potential. If I knew then what I know now, I would have been running at life with both arms outstretched. Good on Jessica for having the guts to do that.
Updated to add: here is a list I found of heroic characters. http://changingminds.org/disciplines/storytelling/characters/heroic_characters.htm I think we can all agree that Jessica fits the “bold adventurer” category.