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What It Takes To Be An Everyday Hero

January 1, 2012

Readers who have followed my blog since its inception know I find Everyday Heroes from eclectic and diverse sources. Case in point: Black Bear #56 from last month’s post. But in every case so far, my posts have had subjects who have performed heroic feats, whether they were Medal of Honor winners, military units, average citizens, organizations, or even an animal.

It is important to keep in mind that heroes are also those who display noble qualities. A person with noble qualities can be defined as one having “elevated principles and consistently adhering to them.” Performing a heroic act is most likely to be a one-off feat that is precipitated by an emotional reaction to confrontation with danger. Acting in accordance with noble qualities is more likely to be associated with a repetitive commitment to acting in a principled manner, living a life defined by character.

Each type of hero should be valued, for he or she is the ultimate paradigm for society and mankind. The heroic actor and the person with noble qualities stand out among us as the best of all of us. But the heroic actor is most often the one who captures the headlines, while the person with noble qualities typically passes through life without praise or acclaim. Yet it is the latter who makes a true difference in the lives of the persons with whom he or she is in contact.

I often reflect on the way the concept of heroism has been turned on its head. We label sports figures, movie stars, and other celebrities as heroes because they make a lot of money and because they have fame. It’s not fame that makes the hero. In fact, fame has little to do with heroism. Fame may be a fleeting aspect of performing a heroic act, but it is not what motivates the true hero. The true hero makes a difference. That’s all the motivation he or she needs.

I recall the instance of a man who jumped in front of a stampeding horse, waving away the animal as it bore down on a 3-year-old girl, saving that girl’s life and earning him front page headlines in the local newspaper and an award from the local mayor. That story captured the imaginations of many in our community, but it faded away fairly quickly and I never heard about that man again. Perhaps he went on to perform other heroic acts. Who knows? But the odds are that his actions on that day were the only truly heroic physical acts of his lifetime. I say that not to take away from him the bravery and glory of what he accomplished, but to make the point that few of us are ever confronted with circumstances that require a heroic physical response.

On the contrary, every one of us is presented with the opportunity to act in a way that requires noble qualities. These opportunities present themselves every day of our lives.

How about the woman who paid off another woman’s layaway balance at a Target store, and then walked away without giving her name?
Or the small group of men and women at the Dallas International Airport greeting military personnel returning home for the holidays?
I heard about Dorothy True in Dundee, Illinois, who included a thank you note with every bill she ever paid – every month of her adult life (imagine the surprise of the accounting clerks at the telephone and power companies).
I know a man with cancer who, when asked how he’s doing, answers, “If things were any better, I’d be in heaven.”

I know hundreds of people who volunteer as coaches, board members, fund raisers, mentors, etc.

We all know people who make a difference by exhibiting noble behavior. On the birth of this New Year, it would be entirely appropriate to recognize those people with a thank you. Maybe it’s time they receive some praise. And maybe it’s time we emulate them instead of false celebrity heroes. It’s the Everyday Heroes who make a difference.

Joseph Badal is the author of the suspense novels  The Pythagorean Solution, Terror CellThe Nostradamus Secret and Evil Deeds.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Candace George Thompson permalink
    January 8, 2012 3:14 pm

    This is an excellent reminder of the power each of us have to make another person’s day a little brighter. Something as simple as a smile or a thank you can make a big difference.

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