I wrote most of this post several months ago, but I felt it needed more, so I decided to let it sit for a while. A few months ago, a friend’s untimely death made me realize what an everyday hero he was.
Let’s talk extremes for a moment. It is surely much more difficult to be a hero than a villain. Heroes have to have more stamina and resolve. Courage in the face of evil is rather daunting. Being a villain is easy. Their motivation is their own greed and selfish desires. It is not clouded by concern for others. They want what they want no matter the cost to those around them. Classic villains are usually after world domination or some other extremely large pay off. They tend to be shrewd and quite intelligent. Classic heroes are intelligent too and have to be rather tricky and of course athletic to fight evil. But heroes are driven by a higher need to preserve what they believe is right. This is not to say that heroes don’t make mistakes or occasionally question their purpose. It gets tiring to fight evil and to be helpful to others instead of just worrying about their own needs. Even if some of the superheroes take a break, they ultimately realize the hook of recoiling against injustice cannot be extracted.
We all love heroes. They inspire us and challenge us because we all secretly, or not so secretly, wish we could make that kind of difference. Of course none of us have super powers to wield, but scaled down to normal living in our every day lives the hero mentality can still be applied. It’s easy to get caught up in the throes of our existence within our own bubble, but we can look for opportunities to reach outside of it. Even small acts of kindness or assistance can end up making a hero type impact. At the time, we may or may not realize the ramifications of “paying it forward”, but that is not really the point. A hero’s actions are not for recognition or even for self-satisfaction. It is for the general good and to help counteract the surrounding injustices. Instead of complaining about the ugliness, heroes do something.
There really are so many examples of ordinary heroes in the past and living among us today. I applaud them. I also would like to take a moment to highlight a real life hero that was a friend of mine from high school who was insensibly murdered this past fall. Jeff Newland dedicated is adult life to forming mentoring groups and spoke and wrote to provide inspiration and motivation for those in unfortunate circumstances. It was his passion. His sunny disposition and humor was infectious, but he also approached challenges for himself and others with an unassuming tenacity. I salute Jeff as a hero and I know his legacy will continue in the positive ways he touched so many lives around him. Isn’t that what a hero truly is? Whether the “saves” are big saves or small saves, they all count in the long run. And a hero is always on the look out for more opportunities to make a positive impact.
I will close with a thoughtful quote from Albert Einstein: “We have to do the best we can. This is our sacred human responsibility.”