“If we wait to foil a bank robbery or rescue someone tied on the railroad tracks we will never be a hero. We probably won’t even come across a cat stuck in a tree. As long as we sit at the bus stop waiting for our great moment we will miss our real chance at the heroic: the infinite number of tiny daily acts inspired by the great. Our actions may seem insignificant, but their results will grow and multiply.” – unattributed
We are constantly barraged by media and entertainment industries with their ideas of what “heroic” means: killing bad guys and saving people from terrorists; defusing bombs and blowing up buildings or saving someone from ferocious beasts or psychotic murderers. The writers of these works are simply trying to make money by exploiting our desire to live vicariously through actors in situations that none of us probably will ever see. And most of us buy into this idea of heroism, realizing that we will never be this “hero”.
I do not have any superpowers and I do not have a license to carry a concealed firearm, so does that mean that I never can be a hero? Absolutely not. It is up to us to define “heroism” for ourselves, and it is up to us to become heroes on our own terms. We can be heroic in our imaginations, but that type of heroism does not help the people we meet in our day-to-day lives. We can be heroic in small, almost insignificant ways, too–giving to others and helping others to be happy or fulfilled in their lives. Our tiny acts of heroism will not make someone happy, but perhaps they can relieve some of the stress or worry in another person’s life so that the person can find happiness more easily.
In almost half a century on this planet, I have never seen someone else raise a gun at another person or become involved in a high-speed chase in a major metropolitan area in order to capture bank robbers. But I have seen many people practice heroism on their own small scale, and I know that I have a richer life for what has been given to me personally on a small scale than for what some “hero” has done to save humanity on a great scale.
Just because I cannot save the world does not mean that I cannot be a hero…
Questions to consider:
In what ways are you, or could you be, heroic?
Why do so many people use the term “hero” only for someone who is “heroic” in violent ways?
Do we necessarily have to risk our lives in order to be a hero?
For further thought:
“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his or her freedom.” – Bob Dylan