A friend told me about an accident she and her husband came upon the other day. A car was on fire, and someone was trying to get out. Her husband jumped out of their vehicle and ran to help him get out, stayed with him until medical people arrived to fly the injured driver out to a hospital. Her husband was banged up a bit, but fine. Everyone was commenting on how much of a hero he was for helping and putting himself at risk. She demurred. I wrote in her comment section the following.
“Heroes are every day people who do extraordinary things without worrying about the consequences.”
I thought on that later, and I have come to the decision that all of us are everyday heroes during our lives. Often we don’t think of our actions as heroic or special. We simply react to what is happening in the best way we can. Sometimes it is helping someone survive a horrific accident. Sometimes it is taking soup to a sick friend. Sometimes it is a listening ear, and sometimes a swift kick in the attitude of someone having a pity party.
Saving a life is a big deal. It is a lot of responsibility and takes someone with inner strength of steel and granite to do what has to be done. Pulling someone out of burning building, out of the twin towers; running into the line of fire to rescue someone, standing up to the local bully to protect someone; leaving the abusive spouse, male or female, and taking the children with you; moving back home to take care of aging parents and giving up your plans to raise a child you didn’t expect to raise. All of those are heroic things. It takes guts, selflessness, and a willingness to deal with unforeseen consequences due to your actions to fulfill the title of hero.
Some people have jobs that are more like callings which are intrinsically heroic. Fire fighters, Law enforcement, Military men and women, Emergency Medical Personnel, are all in highly dangerous occupations. People are willing to accept those dangers. They train and work hard to gain the skills to do their jobs to the highest degree of proficiency. They are heroic in going out into the harsh world and fulfilling their duty.
Some people are heroes for taking on responsibility that they didn’t sign up for in their lives. They don’t run into burning buildings or chase down criminals, nor do they go out and put an end to evil regimes that threaten their countries and ours. These are the average moms and dads who sacrifice career advancements, educational opportunities, and being upwardly mobile so that one of them can stay home and raise their children. These are the single moms and dads, who, for whatever reason, are raising their children without benefit of a spouse. These are the single parents who are working, going to school full time, and being a mom or dad too. They could easily drop the kids into the system, hand them off to grandparents or other family members, but choose to be the mom and dad, provider, and give up personal time to be the best parent they can be.
There are heroes who teach, guide, lead, discover, and reach out to students who are on the verge of becoming another statistic to the poverty, gangs, and violence of their cultural world. Older men and women who set out to be an example to younger men and women, becoming a mentor and someone who believes in a young man or woman who has never had an advocate for their potential. And some heroes who coach and shape young people into strong, independent, thinking adults become the silent hero in the lives of the lonely, lost, and ignored. Most of them never know they made a difference just by their example.
And there are the every day people who reach out to everyone around them with friendship. Sometimes all it takes is just one person to change the life of another in a positive way after the slings and arrows of life has beaten them down. To the one they helped, they are doing something extraordinary. They cared enough to encourage someone on the abyss to keep going, not to give up, and ask for nothing in return. Sometimes all it takes is one person, just one, to change the trajectory of the world for another lost or grieving soul. Who is your hero?
Every day people, doing extraordinary things . . . think about it.