A hero is a normal person, usually a prominent or heroic figure who, against odds and in some extreme circumstances, strives to overcome adversity by exhibiting extraordinary courage, ingenuity, or resourcefulness. Much as other previously solely gender-defined terms are now used to describe anyone, hero is frequently used to describe any gender, although hero only applies to girls. When you hear someone say “I’m a hero”, what they really mean is that they are special, with extraordinary ability or personal insight. Their uniqueness is their greatest asset, and they have the intelligence, strength, and resources to overcome seemingly unbeatable odds. In short, they are extraordinary!
One classic example is the fairy tale The Little Match Girl, byieves and which was written by William Wordsworth, which later became a feature film starring Barbara Streisand. The hero of this story is Willy Loman, who is orphaned at a very young age and is an amazing escape artist who becomes a skilled master magician, charming and beloved by his new friends. Willy’s life takes twists and turns, but he always seems to be in control and on top of things. He doesn’t need a super hero to do it, and although he is the central character, he is never out of reach, but always just a step away.
Many men identify with this concept of a hero because they feel that being a man, their own ability and potential for greatness isn’t fully realized, and they want to take on a task to prove they are capable of doing it – anything, from solving a crime to rescuing someone from a burning building. Being a hero can be either courageous or callous, but those who are brave enough to accept their destiny and act heroically without regard for others often become true heroes. These heroes inspire us with their caring kindness, sharing compassion, generosity, and sense of humor – qualities we all want in our leaders and people in general. Sometimes these qualities even extend beyond just being human and into helping others.
Another way to look at being a hero is to think of it as acting out a role, which in itself is a heroic act. When we are in certain positions in our lives, such as parenting or taking care of a loved one, acting as a hero comes naturally. Often times, if we don’t recognize our own abilities, we will overcompensate by trying to be something we’re not. This may result in creating and exaggerating our inadequacies to the point where our actions border on criminal behavior.
In contrast, there are also several negative aspects of being a hero. One of the most common and detrimental is hero-worship. There are times when we live our lives as though we are adoring and worshiping a fictional hero, whether it be due to literature, the media, or other sources. Often times, we are so emotionally involved with these characters that we forget about our own responsibilities and the judgments we make in our own lives. The other negative aspect is when we live our lives based on these hero-worshiping figures, and when our life and the lives of others around us are negatively affected. We create problems for ourselves and others, and we create a world that doesn’t respect the individual who does not conform to these idealized, exaggerated hero-worshiping behaviors.
The solution is to avoid defining characteristics of heroes as either good or bad, and to instead focus on the true characteristics that make each and every hero unique. True heroes are flawed, unique individuals who have great moral clarity and a firm belief in the superiority of humankind. They are bound by their own flaws, but they always choose to do the right thing, regardless of personal consequences. A hero’s greatest strength is not his ability to act without thought or hesitation, but rather his ability to see things objectively and make decisions that will benefit humanity. Being a hero means standing up for what is right, despite what may be personally appealing or popularly acceptable. While there are bad apples in every group, there is an excellent wheat cake in every basket.