Heroes (Noun, Plural)
We live in a world of heroes. It is amazing to think of it. They come in so many shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. They can be trained in the work of saving lives or they can just appear out of nowhere. It doesn't really matter the how or the why. All that remains in our minds, after everything is said and done, is that they stepped up when no one else did. They saw a problem and they did their best to fix it.
We have all seen our share of heroes. They may not always be looked at by everyone with that title in mind, but everyone always has someone that they would not hesitate to call a hero.
When defining the word, four little letters stuck together to help us express so many feelings in one small sound, we come across something actually startlingly vague.
A person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.
Yep, there you have it, straight from the dictionary. It kind of betrays the image that has formed over the years; the picture that has become the norm.
It says nothing about stoic figures that stand up to faceless evil and chase it back into its dark little hole. It says nothing about a handsome face or cunning mind. There are no words that tell us of a perfect person who thinks only of another person and lives his life in normalcy after seeing horrible atrocities.
It says nothing like that.
That is why all of us have seen our own share of heroes.
Courage, outstanding achievements, noble qualities. These things are what define a hero and they appear so many times in normal life that it is staggering when you really look.
Courage. This can be shown in so many ways.
It can be seen when someone approaches a friend and tells them something that needs to be heard but could possibly end up in hurt feelings and the severing of a friendship of countless years. Yes, telling someone that you love that they are wrong, or that they are headed in a bad direction, takes tremendous amounts of courage. Courage is facing a fear and doing a necessary action despite that fear.
When the friend hears the words and sees that they are wrong or headed down a dangerous road, then they can adjust, they can salvage their life and get back on their feet.
That person now sees their friend as a hero. And it does not stop there, but I do not think that I need to continue for you to get the picture. Just put the facts together and look through your own life to see if there is anyone who fits into this description. Someone who stood up against a fear and helped you keep your life in one piece. No matter how little the action was, it most likely seemed enormous to you and you held onto the memory.
Outstanding achievements. What does this phrase really even mean?
Most think of lines like: Above and beyond the call of duty, fearless in the face of danger, without regard for one's own safety.
We have all heard these lines on the news. But why does it have to be newsworthy to be thought of as hero worthy? Why do we name only the good looking and the people with the biggest story as a hero?
Police, soldiers, firemen, paramedics, rescue personnel. These are ones who can hold the title, they are newsworthy. They hold the biggest stories. We have seen so many of their tales told.
But this list is not the only place where the phrase, outstanding achievements, holds its accuracy.
No, it can be seen in so much more.
Standing up to bullies in the school hallway, going out of our way to help someone get back on their feet, talking a person out of ideas that could cause lasting and permanent damage. The list is endless.
Noble qualities. Yet another open and debatable meaning.
We have awards that honor these types of heroes. We give them medals or little slips of paper that bear their name with multiple fancy signatures and a grandiose description of services rendered.
But, again, the title hero usually only comes when the reporters flock and the cameras are rolling.
Why does it only have to appear there?
To love someone even though they are broken, to show them kindness even though they have no way of repaying.
To do our best to raise our children with endearing qualities and a moral code so that they can go on to contribute to a better world.
To find a person with a dream and help them to achieve it.
Heroes are everywhere among us. They come and go throughout our lives, and we find ourselves wondering if we even dared to notice. They are the wonderful people who did something for us that stayed our mind long after the event ended.
Despite knowing all of this, and after meeting so many such individuals in my lifetime, I still find myself thinking that I would much rather not live in a world that is so full of heroes.
I know, it sounds callous and unthinkable. But it is true.
I will tell you why.
Because all heroes have one thing in common.
No matter who they are or what they have done. They needed a problem, disaster, sickness, bad person, or some other horrible circumstance, to give them a reason to be a hero.
Adversity and heroism go hand in hand. There is no denying it.
Can a hero still exist if there are no fears to overcome, no broken people to love, or criminals to take off the streets?
Yes, eliminate the problems and suddenly the word hero is erased from our minds.
And I guess I would prefer it that way.