Josh 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.