Who Are You a Hero To?

masked-man.jpgJosh had a question in the comments of the last post and I think it’s better discussed here.

How much of being a hero is personal choice, and how much is externally controlled by the world we live in? I bring this up after reading this article and Gordon stating that he did not think of himself as a hero, only as doing what he had to do.

Along with that, how much of heroism is the perception of other people? Can I be a hero even if I don’t believe that I am?

I think the personal choice is what makes the hero, but others apply the label. So practicing heroism every day tends to lead someone to act the heroic way when a “big event” happens. Then they are called a hero by the witnesses to the act and by the media.

As for the second part of the question, the perception is certainly what gets people called heroic. And it is also why most heroes don’t consider themselves that way. It’s a lofty label and most heroes are humble. If someone thinks you’re a hero, you are.

However, there is a lot of good in thinking of yourself as a hero to others. The question that first put this program in my mind was, “who considers you a hero?” If you accept the role of hero, you accept that others are watching you to take the lead. They look to you on how to behave. They seek inspiration from you. In doing this you can remain humble, but come to realize that you are doing something right – something worth repeating.

That realization came to me at the start of my last summer at camp. I asked staff members who their hero was and a number stood up to describe the reasons I was their hero. It was pretty embarrassing as I was standing in front of over 100 people, most of whom I had met that day. After I got over the embarrassment I started to feel a strong sense of responsibility. The responsibility to act in a way that would honour those sentiments, that would continue to inspire those who were watching me. It guided me through that whole summer.

So who considers you a hero? Sit back from your computer for three minutes and visualize those people. See their faces and think about the reasons they look to you in that way. Then leave a comment here. Typing it out and letting other people read it will help reinforce that responsibility for you.

4 Responses to Who Are You a Hero To?

  1. Kit February 19, 2008 at 10:15 pm #

    I still wouldn’t label myself a hero to the kids I coach, but I know they look to me as a role model in a number of ways, I think that is one of the reasons why I am so committed to them and passionate about my job. They feed off my enthusiasm and all try to meet my high expectations of them. The most important thing I have re-enforced this year with them has nothing to do with rowing, it had to with being courteous and respectful .

    It was very simple they could continue to roll their eyes and talk back (this was a minority, but I addressed the whole group) or they could leave the team. It is the only subject that I have ever shown any form of anger and even in this case I conveyed it a hurt manner more than anything else, as yelling at the kids was not going to achieve my goal. As I truly believe that manners and respectful behavior are the foundation of any good relationship be it between coach and athlete, friends , children and parents and so on….

    The girls reacted very positively to it and stated checking each other and in general were far more mindful about their behavior as a whole. I coupled my feelings with this, that the reason I asked for their respect and manners etc, was because all the coaches are very respectful and compassionate to them and that we are not bunch of jocks who yell and shout at their athletes. They completely agreed with this example and therefore their decision in their response I felt was an easy one, as I wasn’t asking a whole lot of them….

  2. Adam Resh February 19, 2008 at 10:55 pm #

    I think I, just like everyone else who is an uncle, aunt, camp counselor, mother or father, is a hero to the young children they come across. A hero in the sense of them imitating things you do and learning from you. For example, I have two nephews and when they were just babies they didn’t really care about anyone that didn’t pay attention to them because they didn’t know better. But as they got older, they are now 3 and 5, I see how they both look up to me as a role model. There have been times I was around them and was doing something, something my sister didn’t approve of, and they would follow my example and do the same thing and would refuse to stop no matter how much she told them to. The only thing that got them to stop was me not doing it anymore. Now I don’t want you to get the idea that my sister is a bad mother and is raising renegade punk kids, they just really look up to me. They cry when I leave or they leave. They get upset when I drop them off at school and don’t stay with them and I’m the first person they ask about when they get picked up. I think I have taken the experience of having them in my life as a chance to grow up and realize I can’t always be my crass(as Carol would call me) self because children are looking up to me. It literally felt like I had a chance to help mold these kids into respectable young adults as they got older.

    Anyone who has worked at camp knows this is true with pretty much every kid you come across and make an impression on. In a way kids help us grow because they help you see your flaws. If you do something that you wouldn’t want them to do and they see you, they’ll do it. The perfect example is Wyatt from Day Camp. Last summer I had him in my group almost every week he was there and for anyone who knows him, he is a punk…to a certain extent. He will tell dirty jokes, make fun of kids, etc. because it is what he, like every other child in America, sees on t.v. from so-called “heroes” on shows and movies. The only more impacting on a child’s life than television I think is reality. So I decided to try it out on Wyatt. I took him aside, I explained to him that he is a cool kid, he is a great kid and that picking on kids and being inappropriate is not the way to go about things. I actually had a hero talk with him because he was the oldest in the group. I told him he was the oldest, the younger kids looked up to him, as they did, and he is setting an example. I gave him a task, as responsibility by telling him I needed his help and pretty much couldn’t run the group without him helping us because it was me and one counselor with 30 some kids(Thanks Kit…kidding, kind of) and he really took that to heart. I saw an immediate change in him. His sportsmanship improved 100%, he was nice to the kids, he would help me gather them for lunch, help me set up the cones during activities, it was really like having an extra hand. It kind of felt like I connected with the inner hero of this kid.

    I don’t really know if this is what you wanted for a response. It was kind of hard for me to think of something because I don’t consider myself a hero in any way, shape or form. This is all I could come up with, hopefully I helped contribute to this in some way.


  3. Chrales D. leibrand February 22, 2008 at 12:15 pm #

    Shouldn’t we be “Hero” to the other 6.2 billion people in this world, regardless of their ethics, ideology or reciprocity?

  4. Kit February 22, 2008 at 10:27 pm #

    What a great point Chuck. I talked to Matt about this when he was writing that paper in China…that we as a group need to profess multicultural understanding of heroism to really get the point across…this is clearly a large task, but it can be achieved…