Throughout history and around the world, heroes have played an important role. Our nation has many heroes to proudly call our own, from our military to law enforcement to our fire fighters and EMS personnel. These brave individuals serve among us every day and all are on a journey of self-discovery and self-fulfillment. In recent days however, the term hero has become overused and can sometimes be used pejoratively. So, how do we define a hero and what do they represent?
A hero is usually a main imaginary character or a real human being who, against all odds, combats adversity by feats of strength, courage, or ingenuity. As with other historically solely gender-defined words, the hero has been used to describe virtually every gender, although here only refers to females. Many cultures and societies view heroes as a distinct class of men, similar to jousting knights in the medieval times. Today however, the hero has largely lost its gender boundaries and is more often applied to men. The word “hero” typically identifies someone who exhibits exceptional courage.
Historically, people have associated with several defining traits with heroes. While courage is probably the most common trait identified with heroes, other necessary traits include imagination, bravery, and integrity. Imagination is necessary for the hero to truly imagine things that may only come true with great risk and/or terrible consequences. Braveness is necessary for the hero to act in a way that is both strategic and courageous at the same time. Finally, integrity is necessary for heroes to maintain a sense of morality even when their own safety is threatened.
We do not always think of heroes as superheroes. Sometimes ordinary people can accomplish amazing feats in surprising ways. A common thread between heroes and ordinary people is that the heroes take action in extraordinary circumstances. They do not try to be something they are not, and they certainly do not try to act like heroes. In fact, to call someone a hero would be to treat them as though they were one.
One important lesson to draw from history is the ability of ordinary people to overcome incredible odds and achieve extraordinary results. Modern day heroes are not always as lucky as their heroic predecessors were. Nevertheless, they also know that they can and should rise above the odds and achieve great things if they are determined, bold, and relentless in their quest. Modern day heroes continue to uphold the code of courage that was instilled into them by their heroes in earlier days and are willing to give it a modern day twist.
In conclusion, one must not discount the role that religion plays in inspiring and motivating heroic behavior. It is certainly worth noting that many of today’s most inspiring and consequential heroes in history were also religious children of faith. Furthermore, some very great heroes in history including Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi were devoted Christians. In fact, the concept of a “hero” has changed quite a bit over the years to include a mixture of religious and nonreligious characteristics. Hopefully this article has encouraged you to consider heroes and their attributes as an inspirational role model for your own personal heroes.