A person who is admired for achievements, courage, or other qualities.
Also a sandwich
My former home team, the Houston Astros, have been in the news of late. Sadly, this time it is not because of good deeds or good sportsmanship. Just a few years ago they were the darlings of baseball. Having won the World Series on the heels of the terrible Hurricane Harvey, Houstonians had a good reason to feel pride in their team’s accomplishments. Now I have to wonder, can a person, or team, be heroic one minute and then non-heroic the next? What defines a hero, really? How can I, an ordinary person, know who to admire, what example to follow, without knowing who the true hero is?
The aforementioned hurricane caused unprecedented flooding and then in the responses to the deluge, more flooding was caused by reservoir release. In the hurricane, it was as heartwarming as the end of the Grinch movie to see how our giant city came together to help and support each other. Just thinking about it makes my heart swell up like ol’ Grinchie’s did. There were numerous stories of people who would go out in the rain in boats to rescue people, giving of their time and resources to assist those in need. That type of response in the face of calamity spoke of heroism to our city. These people are our heroes.
Heroes act without forethought for personal gain
So how ‘bout them ‘Stros, are they heroes? For doing a great job at their profession? Astros outfielder George Springer plays great ball yet what moves my heart is his work in the community with SAY (Stuttering Association for the Young) and his willingness to be vulnerable about his stutter; to me that is heroism.
Heroes act without forethought for personal gain. Heroes are vulnerable and, through that, are courageous. Interesting how allowing your “weakness” to show is what makes you courageous. Heroes inspire people to be better, to achieve more. Yet these achievements are not typically monetary or status-building. We can admire (and perhaps covet) someone who seems to have it all, they aren’t heroes.
So wealth is not a heroic quality, then, neither is winning a game. We can and do get seduced by apparent achievements and wealth in others. However, it seems this sort of adulation is a bit of a hamster wheel, when one decides to chase wealth it never seems to feel like it is ever caught. Poverty isn’t a heroic quality, either. These elements of status actually mean very little in the definition of hero.
Disney’s animated movie Hercules retold the ancient story of a young man, ostracized by his peers, wanting to find love and acceptance by doing heroic acts. He grows and trains and performs perfectly, yet is not considered a hero by the gods even though he becomes famous and wealthy. Only when he acts without thought of his own gain does Hercules become a true hero. There is a lesson here.
So, I guess this is leading me to realize we need to be very thoughtful about who we admire, who we consider a hero. Babe Ruth has a wonderful quote about being a good follower (see below) I think he is right. We can celebrate achievements but it is only when we know our own values and show integrity to the life we have been given and the path we choose to walk that we can be a good follower. And it takes a good follower to know who the real hero is.