The Definition of Heroism How Stirring to Think Suburban Heroes Are Simply Normal People Who Show Human Decency

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 8, 2018 | Go to article overview

The Definition of Heroism How Stirring to Think Suburban Heroes Are Simply Normal People Who Show Human Decency


There are some who argue that a hero is someone extraordinary, someone who puts his or her life at great risk for a greater good.

While someone who meets that standard certainly is a hero, we'd expand the definition.

We're more inclined to favor the definition suggested by 20th century poet May Sarton, who said, "One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being."

After all, aren't parents, who make sacrifices so that their children have better lives, heroes?

Aren't any of us who take the time to offer a kind word or comfort to someone suffering heroes?

Aren't those who do the right thing even when it runs against their personal interest or gain heroes?

There are some who argue that this type of broad definition diminishes what it means to be a hero; that if all of us can be heroes, it makes heroism a commonplace thing, no big deal.

We contend that, quite the contrary, the fact that all of us can be heroes makes it an inspiring thing!

Consider this stirring definition from the great Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gassett: "The hero is always becoming himself."

There are some who argue that the cause of our lifetimes is to learn to escape the control of our egos, to grow toward love and selflessness. …

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