Talking about heroes and role models, someone asked me if there was anybody who is really inspiring. Without a second thought my answer was yes! Besides our Kings, there are many ordinary people whose lives and stories of daily hardships and survival, of hard work and dedication and of sense of duty and altruism are just as inspiring as the leadership and achievements of successful people we hear or see.
Years back, on a trip to Gasa, I heard of an extraordinary story of a schoolteacher who risked his life to trek for days to get to Lunana. Subsequently I made a documentary on him - a modest homage to thousands of teachers who are posted in far-flung areas doing their job of preparing the future citizens of our country. Aren’t they heroes?
How about that postman from Lingzhi, Ugen Tenzin, who for over 30 years carried mailbags between Lingzhi and Thimphu – at times carrying just one letter. Once he was even swept away by the icy Thimphu River. He lost all his belonging and nearly his life too, but not the postal bag which he didn't let go. The bag contained just four letters – one a ‘return to the sender’.
When I was a student travelling was no fun. Once it took me 13 days to reach Tashigang from Phuntsholing. Such stories are rare today. Thousands of National Work Force workers and engineers live on the road to keep the way clear for us to drive our Marutis and Land Cruisers through. Let alone acknowledge them, we can't wait a minute for a slide to open.
Lest we forget, our soldiers who died defending our country while thousands others who survived are living in the cold icy mountains and mosquito-ridden foothills to secure our borders.
In a collective journey we call nation building, the lives and works of thousands of such people, and even that of a farmer toiling to feed a large family or business people struggling to pay their employees on time, form the backbone of our country. There is no dearth of heroes and role models. It is our national obsession for gossiping that skews them - made worse by our inflated ego, greed and indifference. To be a hero you need not necessarily win a Nobel Prize or possess supernatural powers. You could do by jumping into a river to save someone whose existence you never knew before that very moment or by risking your life to deliver just one letter. Or simply by making a small difference in someone's life.