Heroes are loved and admired by everyone around the world. A hero is someone who, no matter what the circumstances, fights adversity through sheer strength, courage, or ingenuity in order to bring about a just and equitable society. Like many previously only gender-specific terms,hero is frequently used to describe any gender, although hero usually refers only to females. There are heroes who save the world, heroes that are fallen angels, and even heroes who are simply ordinary people who find themselves imbued with supernatural powers.
Many definitions of heroes have their roots in religion. In many religions and ideologies, heroes are chosen through a process of divine election, wherein a person is said to be born into a certain position or chosen from among those who may go on to fulfill a destiny. While there is not one universally accepted definition of a hero in most religions, many have a more subjective interpretation of what it means to be a hero. For instance, a devout Muslim might view a terrorist as a hero because he or she acts to defend Islam against an evil Western civilization. A Christian might look at a thief as a hero because he steals from the wealthy to support his impoverished family.
Theologians also have a number of different definitions for heroes. According to many Christians and some Muslims, a hero is someone who displays the qualities of courage and nobility. They are considered to be heroic when they persevere in the face of death or adversity, when they endure pain and suffer with dignity, and when they rise above other people in history to do great things. Religions also have long held that virtue is the key to a hero’s success, and that without virtue, a hero is no more than a failure. Thus, it is not uncommon for a hero to die noble and successful, but then live a life of crime in order to bring about change and lift humanity.
Some heroes are remembered because they exhibited acts of heroism that were out of ordinary for their time. For example, Superman is remembered because he saves countless people every time he goes into action. In the process, he causes enemies to become afraid of him, which is how he gains the admiration of those who do not know him. A child may imitate Superman, but the child will not be a true hero until he learns to put on the suit and do the heroic acts that define a true hero.
When researchers suggest that heroes do indeed die as a result of their actions, this does not mean that all action heroes cease being heroes. There are many examples of heroic acts performed by un-heroic people. For instance, Bill Gates saved the world by creating the world’s largest and most successful computer, and yet many people will still believe that he is a villain for taking the time to build the greatest computer ever. Similarly, while soldiers are put into harms way, and while they may be heroes in the eyes of the general public, they are not considered heroes by the military because they do not engage in acts of heroism.
All individuals have both a personal risk, which defines the level of personal risk that an individual is willing to take, and a heroic risk, which defines the degree of personal risk that the hero will take in engaging in a certain behavior. The degree to which the hero pays that personal risk is one of the defining characteristics of a hero. These differences between heroes are what help researchers come to the conclusion that there are different levels of heroism.