I used to think the word “hero” was overused. It has been used to describe someone who goes above and beyond what is expected – to save lives or perform some type of extraordinary act. I sometimes scoff when the word hero is used in a way that really doesn’t seem to fit – but then maybe it’s me that should rethink the definition. There are varying degrees of heroism. How do you define a hero?
The dictionary describes a hero as:
- A mythological or legendary figure, often of divine descent, endowed with great strength or ability
- An illustrious warrior
- A man admired for his achievements and noble qualities
- One who shows great courage
- The principal male character (protagonist) in a literary or dramatic work
- The central figure in an event, period, or movement
- An object of extreme admiration and devotion : idol
My husband says he thinks a hero is one who does something for someone else when it would have been much easier not to. It could be a little thing, like plowing their neighbor’s driveway in the winter, or going to check up on someone because they are concerned. That’s a good explanation. Everyday people perform acts of heroism from time to time.
Our soldiers, police and firefighters are heroes – they risk their lives on a daily basis to serve and protect. Their families also are heroes, because they make life easier for these heroes to return to a normal life after their duty is done – as well as worry their loved one will be injured or killed in the line of duty.
Our doctors and nurses are everyday heroes, giving of themselves so others can be healthy.
I do not think someone who performs their job well is a hero – unless they are also helping others to become better people, or teaching and mentoring others to become successful.
Does that mean all leaders are heroes? Not necessarily. Not all politicians are heroes. It all depends on the reason behind what they are doing. There are some who actually are there to help, while others are there to help themselves.
Positions do not make a hero, its attitude and perseverance. It’s the willingness to put oneself out there for the greater good, even if it is hard. It’s continuously being there to support and protect. It’s thinking of someone else first, and not of the consequences to yourself. It’s spending time with a child when you would rather be watching the game. It’s being someone to look up to for their good qualities, and someone you want to emulate.
If I were to actually think about it, most people perform some type of act, even small, that someone else will appreciate. They did something admirable, maybe even heroic, in some small way.
Good parents are our everyday heroes, as are grandparents, who teach you values you retain for the rest of your life. Teachers are everyday heroes. Even the clerk at the grocery store, who puts that extra change into the till from his/her own pocket because you just didn’t have enough to cover the bill. Small bits of kindness, done without an ulterior motive – those are our everyday heroes.
People who work for/with charities for the betterment of man and animals – those are heroes. Those who do their part to preserve the well-being of the planet – those are everyday heroes.
Do you have to perform exceptional acts of bravery to be a hero? No. You just have to be there for others. That’s a hero in my book.