Do you know any? I do. The more I think about it, the more I know.
The handy dandy Dictionary.com defines a hero as “A man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.” That doesn’t quite cut it, in my opinion. Not only is that rather sexist (shesh!) and classist (“noble” indeed!) but it fails to cover the purpose of these heroic deeds.
I think the definition of a hero should includes a person who goes above and beyond the call of duty to help others, often at the expense of the well being of their own life. There is an element of self sacrifice involved. Whether it be taking the time or risking one’s own life, the hero goes out of her or his way to make the lives of others better. It is not about some distinguished ability in the eyes of others, but rather using one’s abilities to maximize the benefit.
I have a neighbour who I admire more and more as I get to know her. A.’s life has not been easy. She is from Vietnam and moved here a couple of decades ago with her family as a teenager. There were years of much struggle including helping family get out of jail in her home country, dealing with family alcoholism, family estrangement and much more. But she pulled it all back together. Heroic. She even stood up to an armed robber while helping at a family store, telling him he could not have the money because it was not hers to give. She talked to this man and told him that this was no way to lead a life, that he was young and free and he should make something of himself. I believe she changed a life that day. Heroic. She donated a kidney to her mother – a woman she had been estranged with previously, simply because she could help. Heroic. She raises three beautiful and caring kids with love, respect and support for their dreams. Heroic.
I am lucky to have this neighbour. She enriches my life, just as the other heroes I know do too. Taking some time to appreciate the heroes in our lives makes a difference. Whether it is those who serve their country in peacekeeping or those who serve their community with their time. There are heroes in our families too, taking time and energy to help beyond their own daily struggles. I am grateful. I am encouraged.
I guess I got a little warm and fuzzy with this post today. (Too many chick flicks? Not enough sleep? I’m posting anyway. It’s not like anyone reads this anyway. :-p ) Oh well. Hug your hero today!