The Opposite of Heroism

There has been a shooting at a Finnish school today.  At least eight people have been killed in an event that is shocking for the generally peaceful country.  My friend Chris pointed out the following part of the story.  (From The Independent)

Teacher Kim Kiuru said the first he knew of the incident was when the head announced over the public address system just before noon (1000GMT) that all students should remain in their classrooms.

“I stayed in the corridor to listen to more instructions, having locked my classroom door.

“After that I saw the gunman running with what appeared to be a small-calibre handgun in his hand through the doors toward me, after which I escaped to the corridor downstairs and ran in the opposite direction.”

He said he saw a woman’s body as he fled the building.

“Then my pupils shouted at me out of the windows to ask what they should do and I told them to jump out of the windows … and all my pupils were saved.”

This man seems to be bragging in saying, “all my pupils were saved.”  My attention is drawn to what he said earlier.  He locked his students inside the classroom and stood in the hallway to see what was happening.  When he saw the gunman, he ran away.  Here was a moment of potential heroism; a call to adventure, if you will.  To paraphrase Indiana Jones and the Final Crusade, he chose poorly.  A hero would have unlocked the door, gone back inside, relocked the door, and then directed the kids out the window.

What would you have done?

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3 Responses to The Opposite of Heroism

  1. Lisa November 8, 2007 at 12:13 am #

    I would like to think that I would act a little more heroically than this (I’ll use this term loosely) gentleman. I’m especially surprised at how the arrogance of “all my students were saved”.

    I feel I would have done exactly as you described. Gone back into the room, locked the door and helped ppl get out safely.

    But this is the type of thing that was referenced in your earlier post about “someone just being there being called a hero”. Everyone is given the opportunity to become a hero. Just because you’re there doesn’t mean that you are going to ACT. The act is what determines whether you are a hero…or a jackass.

  2. Emma October 27, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    No a hero doesnt have to act to be a hero. They can run away. And still be hero. Though think seeing a gun can effect how you think. Face it, if you see a guy with a hand gun your blood will start pumping, it will be hard to think, and your instints will be either fight or flight.

    • Matt October 28, 2010 at 10:36 am #

      I don’t believe running away is heroic. Period. I’m not saying running away is abnormal – that’s the point. Heroes are abnormal.