In Belfast today, nurses who cared for dreadfully wounded victims and their attackers during the worst years of the troubles in Northern Ireland are to be recognised in a ceremony of thanks and recognition, in which they will be granted the Freedom of the City.
Hearing one of these nurses talking modestly of what she did, and of the horrors she witnessed inside and outside her hospital, I was struck by the unselfish bravery of people like her, by her lack of judgment and by her desire to help the community that she loved but that was so sadly fractured. In any atrocity, the media focus is upon the plight of the victims and the identity of the perpetrators, and it is easy to forget the men and women, and sometimes children, who deal with the distressing aftermath often at personal cost.
The Troubles continue, albeit at a lower but increasing level, so even now nurses, doctors, porters, ambulance staff and police and others are having to cope with the effects of bombing, shootings and brutal punishment attacks. It is important we do not forget them.
Unsung heroes are everywhere. They are in the ruined hospitals of Syria; among the aid workers struggling to help the wounded, starving and homeless in our many conflict zones; they are fighting to help famine-hit lands and to rebuild war-torn towns; they are on the back streets of our richest cities giving food and water, and company, to those whom society has chosen to forget; they are collecting litter from our seas that we have put there; they are comforting the bereaved and picking up the child that has fallen. Without people such as these, people who give their time, their devotion and even their lives to help others, our world would be dark indeed.
There are many, many unsung heroes, each of them a Lightworker in the truest sense. They may not know it, nor care, but they embody the Christ Consciousness in their will to good and their wish to help.
Are you an unsung hero? There are never too many in our disturbed but beautiful world, and the need for more generosity of spirit is great.