The media name new heroes every day.
Artists sing songs, paint pictures, write poems and stories about heroes. TV is littered with shows about “Super Heroes”, crime, war and medical shows.
But what is a hero really? Do we diminish the power of the title by giving it to just anyone?
The Oxford Dictionary defines a hero as:
- a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities
- the chief male character in a book, play, or film, who is typically identified with good qualities and with whom the reader is expected to sympathize.
- (in mythology and folklore) a person of superhuman qualities and often semi-divine origin, in particular one whose exploits were the subject of ancient Greek myths.
- a person who is admired for having done something very brave or having achieved something great
- the main male character in a book or film who is usually good
- someone who you admire very much
Members of the armed forces, police, firies, surf lifesavers, doctors and nurses can quite rightly be called heroes. Their every action may not be particularly heroic per se, but when it comes to the crunch they will give everything to save the day, risk their lives, stop the “bad guys”, run into that burning building, perform medical miracles…
There are everyday people who also deserve the title, those who make huge personal sacrifices to make the lives of others safer, better, in some cases worth living. Who go out of their way to improve the lot of others. Foster parents, disability workers, exceptional teachers, some charities and religious organisations…
People who, when confronted with a situation will leap in without thought to their personal safety or the consequences, the neighbours who run into a burning home to save a child, bystanders who will leap in to stop an attack, come to the aid of someone who’s sick or hurt in an accident, they are heroes.
I am loathe to include performers and sports stars under the category of hero as their work and activities stem from an inherently selfish activity, be it singing, acting or sports performance, done for their own personal satisfaction and gain. A few stand out for their humanitarian activities, charity and advocacy work but I don’t think just being a public figure automatically makes you a hero. The dictionary definitions of hero though do include people who are admired very much, so we will have agree to disagree on this matter.
So I’m interested to know what you think makes someone a hero?