These words are occasionally used in society. But have you ever really asked yourself, "What is the definition of a hero or what does a person do when they act heroically?"
Over the last few years I have written about individuals I consider to be heroes in the 'Peter Senese: Today's Heroes' retrospective I have enjoyed sharing with others.
During this same period of time, I have continued to ask myself, "What is a hero? Who are heroes in my life? And what do they do heroically?"
As a stakeholder in the fight to stop child abduction, I have had a unique view on the polar extremes of good vs. bad, selfless vs. selfish, and heroic vs. narcissistic.
Mike Dilbeck, who appears to be one terrific guy, is the Founder & President of 'The Response Ability Project: Empowering People to Intervene in Problem Situations and Be an Every|Day Hero™ shared his definition of what is a hero:
2. Conducted in service to one or more people or the community as a whole;
3. Involving a risk to physical comfort, social stature, or quality of life; and
4. Initiated without the expectation of material gain.
5. To live Unbowed through courage and within your morals, values, and beliefs.
Mr. Dilbeck expanded on the Heroic Imagination Project when he added, "When you consider this interpretation, you can really get that heroism is the other side of the coin — the opposite — of bystander behavior. When you voluntarily engage in an activity that is in service to someone else, or the community as a whole, and you take a risk in doing so AND do it without any expectation of material gain: you are a hero! You are not a bystander.
"Heroism is not random acts of kindness, as great as they are. Heroism is very distinct. A hero is not someone you simply admire or respect. A hero is a very distinct person."
Is it a fair assessment to say that most of us want to be heroes?
Because each of us, in our own way, would like to live in freedom, and in doing so, know that we can make a positive difference for others.
Is wanting to make a difference for others narcissistic, egotistical, or self-promoting?
Absolutely not. Particularly when you voluntarily make a positive difference for others (plural), and in the process of doing so, you seek nothing in return other than a positive outcome for those who may be in need of assistance. Underscoring the selfless act is that a heroic action may at times place a person at physical risk or reduce their quality of life.
On more occasion than not, I have met others who have not been confident enough in who they are to act heroically. This lack of courage often causes them to be bystanders of life. In many ways, it causes us to walk through life without living it. Without courage to be free in who we are, we do not know freedom. Without belief in our own morals, values, and ability, we bow to what is around us, seldom standing up for what we believe in.
This is why, I have learned that in order to be Heroic a person must first and foremost live Unbowed. It is a lesson taught from one of the most heroic individuals who ever lived: Nobel Laurette Professor Wangari Maathai - the first African women to ever be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
So at the end of the, perhaps we can say that a hero is a person who acts heroically because they first learned to believe in themselves.
On this note, I have been so blessed because I am surrounded by heroes who act heroically as a way of life.
"Human rights are not things that are put on the table for people to enjoy. These are things you fight for and then you protect." ― Wangari Maathai
"There is nothing that the world can offer you that is more satisfying and meaningful than being able to make a positive difference for those around you. Find your courage, and then get involved." -- Peter Senese
In ending this, I hope I have given you a few seeds of inspiration to get involved.
Lastly, I would like to leave you with this final thought as shared by the Heroic Imagination Project:
Heroism is the active attempt to address injustice or create positive change in the world despite pressures to do otherwise. It may involve coping effectively in unclear or emergency situations, helping others in need, or may involve setting and achieving goals to promote the well-being of others. Habits of wise and effective acts of heroism can be learned, encouraged, modeled, and are achievable by anyone at any point in their lives.
With best wishes,
(Read sworn testimonials about how Peter Senese helped protect children from abduction)