Making your mark

Posted March 30 2016

In 1919, Johnston McCulley created a fictional character who was to make his mark on generations. This character, Don Diego de la Vega, and his alter ego, Zorro, morphed from the pages of comic books to the movie screen and although undergoing changes throughout the years, the typical image of Zorro saw him as a dashing black-clad masked outlaw who defended “the commoners” against tyrannical officials and other villains as his hallmark Z became his insignia. My first introduction to Zorro came by way of the Disney TV series, and I have to say I was hooked. I loved the TV series for many reasons beyond its entertainment value. Zorro won my heart for his passion, courage and sense of justice, and he also filled many of my dreams. But not casting myself as his fair damsel in distress—no, I would be his accomplice, tagging along, forthright as any five-year-old could be, as we stood: champions of all things good.

Zorro had indeed left an inedible mark on me; I guess it could be said Zorro was to help pave the way for the sense of justice I hold so close today.

Throughout history, real men and women have acted with honour, courage, justice and even ingenuity to make their mark. In fact, a quick Google search for those who have made their mark in history turns up 951,000,000 results. Many noble humans have not only changed the course of history, but they have inspired generations of people to be better versions of themselves. The day in 1955 when Rosa Parks decided to sit down on a bus in Montgomery, USA, she took a stand against injustice and inspired many to stand up for what they believe in, no matter how “unpopular” that may be.

The image of “Tank Man”, the unknown person who stood stoically in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square in China on the 6th of June, 1989, will forever send tingles up my spine and stands as a courageous symbol of resistance against government oppression.

There can be no doubt this brave heart made, and continues to make, his mark on millions around the globe.

Thomas Edison was described by his teachers as “too stupid to learn anything”, and he was fired from his first two jobs for lack of performance. Yet he did not let this or his countless failed attempts at creating the lightbulb deter him from ultimately succeeding. His mark is now known to all each time we flick the switch.

Closer to home, Peter Singer, who is described as the father of the animal rights movement, was to make a profound mark on me when I read of his experiences on meeting a chapter of the RSPCA in England. Both sharing their mutual appreciation of animals and getting along well … until it came time for afternoon tea, when ham sandwiches were served. Peter thinking how odd and me upon reading those words thinking how right—my menu and life changing forever.

For me it was in 2003 that a most profound mark was to be made on my life, heart and trouser leg—that mark was made by one Edgar Alan Pig. It was during those tender moments we spent together in his stable, me rubbing his tummy and him offering his enthusiastic piggy grunts at just the right time, that I decided then and there just what my mark in the world would be, and Edgar’s Mission was created.

Throughout history, life has thrown up challenges to its people, and it is through these challenges that great people have made their mark, seeing opportunities—opportunities to grow into better versions of themselves and thereby enhance the cohesion of society. In the realisation that we all belong to one global community and that we are not divided by race, creed, religion or even species comes the knowledge that compassion, acceptance and justice are the keys to a better world for all.

Animals now stand as our greatest test: they are voiceless, they cannot fight back, we can overpower them in so many ways, we can do just about anything to them, but when we choose not to harm them, when we acknowledge that their suffering matters, when we see how precious their lives are to them and when we choose kindness at every opportunity—well, when we do so, I truly believe we have reached the greatness of our humanity and have made a mark that even Zorro would be truly proud of.