Friday, April 10, 2009

What Makes a Hero?

Some days I find it hard to come up with something to write that I think you might want to read. I've had a lot of those days lately. That is why I'm so thankful for an anonymous reader who left a comment about heroes.

My reader commented:
I was watching "AN OFFICER and A GENTLEMAN" I want to know what makes a hero. Is it the person who achieves their goals when they really should not have...Or is a hero who quietly take care of all things small and mundane. Or is a hero someone who handles huge tragedies
. Just my wondering thoughts. What is a true hero. Maybe you can help.

I have to tell you that I may be at a bit of a disadvantage on this one because I've never seen the movie. So I can't tell you anything based on the film. But thank goodness all this person asked for is my opinion, and you know I'm quite capable of giving you that!

First, I run to my PDA and look up the word--hero.
A person noted or admired for nobility, courage, outstanding achievements, etc.

The definition seems pretty simple and straightforward, but my mind starts to unfold it like an origami swan.

Do I admire anyone because of their nobility?
I'm sorry, but last names, family crests, and blue blood doesn't impress me. I've lived long enough and seen enough to know that heroes and scoundrels can come from the same household.

So I lean toward the courageous, outstanding achievers.
Courageous... Is that the foot soldier who's courage leads him to fight the enemy? The fireman who courageously enters a burning home to save a life? The police officer willing to risk his life to catch the bad guy? Yes, all these people are heroes. And could a hero also be the young unwed expectant mother who is courageous enough to choose to give her baby life rather than aborting it? What about the child who takes on killer cancer with a smile? And the woman who cares for her invalid husband every minute of every day, what about her? Do you think it takes courage to care for aging parents and honor their wishes not to be put in a rest home? Every day, somewhere in this country, a man walks away from his wife and responsibilities. A woman is left to raise and provide for children alone. She's got to have guts to get out of bed the next day. In this country everyday there are also men making the choice to face their fears or suffer unpleasant circumstances to care and provide for their families. Sometimes "keeping on keeping on" takes courage.

One day while my husband and I were engaged in Los Angeles traffic, (Rick behind the wheel and I in the passenger seat) I looked at him and told him, "You are my hero." (They call it the City of Angels maybe because you need more than one guarding you if you are going to live through a drive on the freeway!) I know I don't have the courage it takes to do what my husband does to provide for our family. So, he is a hero in my book. He's MY hero.

The saints of old listed in the book of Hebrews, we refer to as "heroes of the faith." Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Rahab are just some that, by faith, followed and obeyed God, exemplifying courage and making outstanding achievements in their lifetime. They didn't toot their own horn and they didn't have medals pinned to their chests. But the Bible says that they gained approval from God because of their faith. So maybe an unshakable faith in God is what makes a hero. At least a hero in the Christian faith.

I'm still unfolding.

Joni Eareckson Tada is a hero. Joni, and others like her, have faced overwhelming circumstances with courage, unshakable faith, and have made outstanding achievements. Thousands of heroes just like her do not enjoy the same notoriety, but they are no less a hero. At least that's my opinion.

Like beauty, existing in the eye of the beholder, maybe heroics is a matter of opinion. When someone does something that seems to me to require much courage, and their outstanding accomplishments change me or my life for the better, I classify them as a hero.

So, after pondering the question, "What makes a hero?" I've decided it must be someone of great faith and courage who makes accomplishments that I perceive to be outstanding or life changing.

To someone else, you may be a hero! We all have the potential, do we not?


Karen said...

Very well written! I enjoyed reading your answer...

Brittney said...

Hero's, we find them in everyday life. I think you just have to look at the people who do the "hard" things in life. They are people who take the place they are in and make the best of it. The spouse, the single mom or dad, the firefighters,ems workers, nurses, ect. I really liked this one, makes you think.

sharilyn said...

i'm just catching up on all my blog friends' posts from last week and read this one. in the comment, where your reader suggested a hero may be "someone who handles huge tragedies", i immediately thought of the principal at Columbine High School: Frank DeAngelis. a journalist friend of mine is writing a series this week on the anniversary of the Columbine tragedy, and yesterday was an interview with Principal DeAngelis. he was truly a hero in my eyes... (to read the article)