What Makes a Hero
A hero is usually a normal human being or a major fictional character who, against all odds, fights adversity through the use of courage, ingenuity, or personal strength. Like many formerly only gender-specific words, hero is frequently used today to describe any sex, although hero only seems to apply to girls. Many people think that heroes are brave and strong, and if they have been shown to have such qualities in the past, that they must also be human. It can be confusing knowing what to call a hero.
One problem with understanding and defining characteristics of heroes is that there are often times conflicting definitions and descriptions of what a hero is, exactly. This often leads to people using words that are inaccurate or are overused. The definition of a hero should not depend on whether or not he is a good fighter, if he has super-human strength, or if he can defeat the evil villains. What is important is what he represents, what his defining characteristics are, and how those characteristics came about. After all, heroes do not need to have super-human powers to be heroes; they are merely human in every way except for one critical aspect: they have a set of values that guide their actions and their determination to achieve their ends.
Most definitions of heroes emphasize values. heroes are generally considered to have virtue, which is a person’s overall responsibility towards others. More than just a mere physical presence, a hero embodies values like fairness, truthfulness, courage, and honesty. Values are important because they provide people with a sense of honor and duty. Heroes are role models because they willingly put themselves in harms way to protect the innocent, the vulnerable, and the defenseless.
heroes are also traditionally seen as strong characters. As children we learn to look up to our role models to learn what it takes to be a good person. We also have romantic role models who we follow and emulate. Strong characters are seen as capable and even courageous. Strong characters inspire us with confidence in ourselves and in others. This is why stories about heroic acts are so popular and why superheroes are so appealing.
Finally, heroes are defined as a group or category of individuals who engage in extraordinary acts of courage. It is this definition that defines the concept of heroism. In short, heroes are perceived as being selflessly motivated to perform heroic acts for the benefit of others. A hero may risk his or her life, his or her liberty, and even his or her property in order to save or protect his or her community, loved ones, or friends.
What makes us most alive as human beings is our ability to feel a sense of pride and purpose when we take a heroic action. Our capacity to identify with others who are doing the same thing has created the bond between the heroic actions of one person and the actions of another, and the shared understanding that such actions are not only morally right but also uniquely human. These qualities are what make heroes.