“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.” ~ Timberland Boots, Backpacker Magazine, Oct. 1998 …
What constitutes being a hero? When asked this question, many of us might think tremendous acts of bravery, such as risking one’s life to save another’s. But when we set such a high standard for heroism, we effectively reject the hundreds of thousands of daily opportunities we have available to us on a much smaller level–cheering up a friend who is in need of hope and encouragement, offering some company and a shoulder to cry on to a loved one who is going through mourning and grief from a loss, standing up for what is right and just. It is true that being a hero can mean stopping bad guys, defusing bombs, and fighting terrorists, or saving people from psychotic murderers or ferocious beasts; but it can also mean fighting for a noble cause, or giving to others and helping them to be happy and fulfilled in life. Being a hero can mean simply choosing to serve others selflessly with all your abilities and all your heart.
One of my favorite definitions of a hero is a person who transform compassion–a personal virtue–into heroic action–a civic virtue. When we are able to do this, we use all of our God-given abilities to put our best self forward in service to humanity. This definition shows that heroes are people of great character and integrity, even before they chose to exhibit bravery.
I have no superpowers and I have no badge. More than likely I will not be faced with situations that might allow me to be a hero by much of society’s standards. Yet just because I cannot save the world does not mean that I cannot be a hero. I have seen many individuals display heroism on a small scale–heroism that has personally made my life much richer than what many other heroes have done to save humanity on a grand scale. It essentially all boils down to a choice we make every day–to live in small and almost insignificant ways… or to be heroic in small and almost insignificant ways.
Be a hero in all the small ways available to you.
Questions to consider:
Why do we tend to set aside the term “hero” for those who are heroic in great feats of bravery?
Must we risk our lives in order to be a hero?
In what small ways are you heroic? What might be some additional ways available to you?
For further thought:
“Heroism is the brilliant triumph of the soul over the flesh, that is to say over fear: fear of poverty, of suffering, of calumny, of illness, of loneliness and of death. There is no real piety without heroism. Heroism is the dazzling and glorious con.” ~ Henri Frederic Amiel