Of heroes and Nobel Prize awards

Published October 23, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid


Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

My piece last week focusing on our three women heroes, Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz, Maria Ressa, the first Filipino to win the Nobel Prize, and Vice President Leni Robredo, 1Sambayan choice as its candidate for the May, 2022 presidential election, elicited several comments. Thus, I thought, I should follow it up with other leadership qualities that may be needed during a most difficult period in our history.

From my readings on the making of Nobel laureates and Olympic prize winners, it appears that in addition to sharing qualities of heroes, they also share in common certain qualities.

In addition to those earlier mentioned – moral integrity, courage, conviction, honesty, self-sacrificing, persistence, tenacity, mindfulness, spirituality, empathy, compassion, and creativity, many of the “chosen” demonstrate this unique characteristic – that of being “utterly immersed” and dedicated to what is perceived as a task of great significance.

The compulsive dedication which engages both their hearts and minds is manifested early in their lives – through an almost obsessive desire for learning at an early age. They have excelled in early and higher education and are much younger than their contemporaries when they start practicing their professions. Many of them spend years of hard work, often accompanied by frustration as they hurdle obstacles and failure. They are more open than most and enjoy collaborating with peers which they say enables them to feel motivated and stimulated to experiment with alternative strategies.

The most effective leaders and heroes are those who are able to respond to the greatest needs of the times. Thus, if we examine the roster of our heroes, we would see that most of them had emerged during wars, revolutions, plagues, and other forms of great instability and chaos. Some do come out to challenge unjust systems and some to defend a moral cause, knowing the personal risks involved, and oftentimes without expectation of reward.

It has also been shown that different leaders are needed for different times.

Maria Ressa and her digital news outlet, Rappler came at the right time and during the right political environment. President Duterte’s war against drugs, and the extrajudicial killings of thousands and countless violations of human rights made the country one of the deadliest countries on earth for journalists. This was followed by a rise in disinformation and threats from extremism. Rappler’s independent journalism was just the right and timely response to the crisis.

Julie Posetti, global director of research at the International Committee for Journalists explains in her essay,

“Maria’s Nobel Peace Prize is a Call to Action” why Ressa and her colleague, Dmitry Muratov were chosen for this prestigious award:

“Ressa’s situation illustrates the convergent political, technological, commercial, and legal threats hobbling contemporary independent journalism and risky lives of journalists around the world. The 18th woman to ever win a Nobel Peace Prize, the award highlights the experience of women journalists who sit at the epicenter of risk on the new front line in the global struggle for media freedom and journalist’s safety…. Ressa lies at the center of a very 21st century storm, disinformation and attacks, one in which credible journalists, and especially female journalists – are subjected to online violence with impunity… The brutal harassment she experiences online and offline is designed to shut her up and shut down Rappler. What are the implications? When truth is at stake, journalists must become activists. Ressa says we have not even seen such serious threats to press freedom and democracy since World War II, and the Nobel Prize is a global call for action to defend independent journalism everywhere.”

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