In many of my circles we’ve been discussing the roles and representations of heroism. I have of course been wondering more and more about the definition of “hero” and our collective perception of “heroism.” We’ve plastered the label with both great and unapproachable ideas. Ideas which sincerely make it difficult to access the many tangible facets of heroism.
hero |ˈhi(ə)rō|noun ( pl. -roes)
ORIGIN Middle English (with mythological reference): via Latin from Greek hērōs.who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities
It is common practice to view influential, and historic individuals as one’s heroes, yet it seems irreverent. For me, heroes are not merely notable men or women, but also everyday people who make the conscious decision to put aside themselves for others. Yes, often risking their lives, livelihoods and social status to defend the rights of others but also simply sacrificing their time, energy and wills to help those who cannot help themselves. Doing this neither for praise, accolades nor attention.
So personally, my list of heroes consists of the women who have nurtured me, and promoted purpose in my life. Of course none of these women are perfect, but I cherish them for giving so much of themselves, and reminding me that there is no greater honor than putting aside your own agenda for the good of others.
Certainly this is something easier said, than done. A fact I would argue sets heroes apart. Yet there will always be the undeniable lines of courage, resilience and phenomenal bravery that make these individuals remarkable. Often times, we view heroism as a split second decision, but it is in fact a moral standing that informs one’s actions.
A coward does not become a hero, or certainly not over night. Perhaps there is a hero in all of us, but how many of us would be willing to put aside ourselves for the good of anyone else? The hero inside me rests dormant in every way. She is often too afraid to speak against injustice; too inexperienced to defend anyone; too self-centred to consider the needs of others.
For me, I don’t think it’s right to make heroes out of people that we cannot connect to. It is one thing to admire someone, and another to consider them your hero. Yet perhaps my abrupt assumptions about others’ choices of ‘personal heroes’ are unfair and narrow-minded. Perhaps, it is simply that many of us see all the things we admire in those influential and historical figures, and struggle to find them in those around us. Struggling always to find these traits in ourselves. At the same time, I think we should be mindful of:
1. the idealism of heroism
2. the humanity of our heroes
3. the countless people who are heroes in our everyday lives
We are doing a disservice to the people closest to us when we do not acknowledge their self-sacrifice, kindness, and accommodation of others. Most of all, we do a disservice to ourselves when we do not make a habit of putting others before ourselves.