Anderson Cooper hosts the annual CNN Hero Awards every Thanksgiving. He is exposed to hundreds of heroes from around the world. This week, he became one while on duty in Haiti. The following is from his blog.
I saw a looter on the roof of the store they’d broken into throw what I think was part of a concrete block into the crowd. It hit a small boy in the head.I saw him collapse. More chunks of concrete were being thrown at the looters on the roof. The injured boy couldn’t get up. He’d try and then collapse again. Blood was pouring from his head. He was conscious but had no control over his body. I was afraid someone on the roof would see him lying there and throw another cinder block piece onto him. I was afraid he’d get killed. No one seemed to be helping him. I ran to where he was struggling, and picked him up off the ground. I brought him to a spot about a hundred feet away.
There is a fairly common complaint that too often, news reporters prefer to record events than fix them – remaining bystanders. Anderson Cooper chose to act instead.
Our heroic imagination is fostered in a number of ways, including imagining ourselves in situations where we act heroically. One important way is to be exposed to the stories and motivations of heroes. That can happen through reading news stories about heroes, watching movies with hero’s journeys and behaviours, and listening to interviews of heroes. Anderson Cooper has spoken to many heroes over the last few years and has been able to hear why they chose to do what they did. He has been inspired, amazed, and encouraged. I am 100% certain that his actions in Haiti this week were affected by his experiences with his role at CNN.
This is why I visit schools to share heroism with students. It’s why I write this blog. It’s why I’ve created a Gallery of Heroes. It’s why I’m part of the Heroic Imagination Project. Because the heroic imagination grows through exposure to heroism and when ordinary people are doing extraordinary things for others, Anderson Cooper’s task of finding one Hero of the Year will become more and more difficult.