What makes a hero?

People normally associate firefighters, war veterans and doctors as heroes. Their jobs are often high stress and has something to do with saving lives. However is saving lives through direct physical danger, the only thing befitting of what is considered a hero? What about single parents that do their best for their children? What about teachers, nurses and counselors who have spent a large portion of their lives helping people beyond the numbers of their salaries? What about artists and athletes that have made a positive impact on other people?

I would not automatically associate a firefighter, war veteran and doctor as a hero. While it’s true that some people who become firefighters, soldiers and medical providers have the intention to do good in their minds, not everyone who take on those roles share the same sentiment.

With that said, anyone can be considered a hero so long as what they have done has made a positive impact on others. The level of significance is relative to the people whom the actions have made an impact on. That is why many different people disagree on what makes a person a hero.

Take Caitlyn Jenner for example. She was formerly known as Bruce Jenner, an Olympic gold medalist. Many people would denounce her as a deviant and unworthy of the label of hero because all she did was publicly announce her gender change. What those same people do not realize is that the impact she has made was not for them, but for people who are in a similar predicament. While she may not have made an extensive physical effort to do what she did, she made a choice and followed through with it, within a society in which the majority still cast hate and bigotry upon. While her hero status may not be on the same wavelength as that of a war veteran who sacrificed his own livelihood to save an entire village, the fact remains: both of them have made some sort of significantly positive impact on other people.

Anyone can be considered a hero so long as what they have done has made a positive impact on others.

In a scenario where an award is given to recognize heroes, if a courageous soldier was awarded a medal every year for the last one hundred years, but this year, a teacher was awarded instead, many would denounce that award as frivolous. The reason behind this is all due to attitude.

What we see when we look at the entire picture, is a society that put a lot of emphasize in one area of our lives, dictated by a group of people whose ideals were enforced by a single attitude. Why does a firefighter, war veteran and doctor have the highest praise when there are so many other people in our lives that have influenced the way we grew up, lived and evolved? While I am not lowering the importance of a firefighter, war veteran and doctor, as a global community, we should also not lower the importance of people from other roles as well. Accepting what is different from us is a first step towards positive attitude. Of course, this is all within context of sensible hero worship. I wouldn’t give a suicide bomber the same hero praise that a person who deserves it, that protected a stranger out of harm’s way. Nor would I give hero praise to a doctor who secretly scams money from his poor patients, but donates large amounts of money to charities to make himself look good.

The bottom line is that anyone can be a hero, so long as the things they have done have made a significantly positive impact on other people with as little intentional negative impact as possible. There is no reason why people who adhere to one sort of hero worship, must make an effort to denounce the hero worship of others. Just because their actions made no impact on you, it doesn’t mean their actions made no impact on others. Especially when many others need a beacon of light to help guide them through life. Not everyone share the same sentiments, nor the same perspectives as you, but on that same note, people from either sides should recognize that there are indeed people whom are suffering. Those people require various heroes to help bring them out of that pain. Certainly, if you’re only here to criticize and bash them for it, you’re definitely not there to help them through it. So why not let go of that hate and bigotry for a moment, then let those in need find the heroes that match up to what they feel would make the most positive impacts on their lives?

2 thoughts on “What makes a hero?

  1. JD

    Lee, I think we had a conversation about this long time ago. Do you remember talking about a graphic novel called Kingdomcome? It was set in a time/place where many people had super powers. Instead of one superman, we had hundreds/thousands with similar powers. Ideals were lost, they began to fight over who to save and when, it was chaos! The take home message for me, was that if everyone has superpowers… super doesn’t really mean anything. Superman, was super not b/c of his physical abilities… but because of his most human attributes! compassion and kindness.

    1. leemanism

      Sorry for the late response. My blog didn’t send me a notification.

      As for your comment, you were the one who set me on the path of learning about people’s attitudes towards various scenarios around the world. When I submitted this post, I thought about what you said and it partially inspired me here.

      I absolutely agree with you, especially on the last bit about his human attributes. You summed up my post quite nicely. ^_^

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