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CHOG #22 - WHAT IS A HERO?

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

I’m really not sure. What I considered a hero to be when I was growing up, does not seem to be the definition of what a hero is in today’s terms. Basically, to me (growing up), a hero was (always) a man with great strength, who did very courageous and maybe even dangerous things for the greater good. In fact, when I looked up the word, Hero, the definition given by Merriam-Webster is: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability.


As with so many words in today’s usage, we have either diluted the intended meaning so much that it is almost meaningless, or we have elevated the word (in the mind of society) to be what society believes it was fundamentally intended to be to start with, thus suiting the “desired” meaning society now wants this word to mean. Looking at other meanings of Hero, that in my opinion seem to be “recent” additions to these sites, it lists characteristics like humility, caring, patience, selflessness, and displaying admirable qualities. Hmm….this brings to mind a very solemn and cautiously thoughtful type of person (to me), not a daring and courageous type of person. Furthermore, in today’s culture, what exactly are qualities that we all “admire”? So, let’s examine this a little more….


“You are my hero” ~ that has been said so often in literature and movies and again, as I stated in the first paragraph, is most often associated with a female saying this to a male who maybe saved her (or society at large) from some awful fate or event. You know, like Spiderman and Batman (insert giggle giggle)! So many times, we associate heroes as warriors, soldiers, people that will sacrifice their life for their family or their country, and oftentimes, these same people (again most often males) may not be seen as possessing the “inner” traits that some “newer” definitions ascribe to being a hero (the humility, patience, caring personifications discussed above). Most often these (men) are ruthless, bold, audacious, and brazen ~ exactly the opposite of patient and caring. In fact, if “heroes”, as we so commonly think of, had the patient and caring attributes, they would have been unable to actually be the hero that we commonly think of when most of us think of a hero. A hero (by most definitions) must be brave, dauntless, overconfident, and daring in order to actually be prepared and in fact, physically able to do the things that make (him) be a hero. So, again, let’s examine this a little more…


During the COVID19 pandemic, HERO was a term that applied to a lot of professions (instead of a person). Nursing for example ~ I don’t think throughout history the nursing profession has been commonly looked on as being heroic. Nurses (females mostly) are assistants to doctors, doing routine assignments that maybe prepared a patient for surgery, do testing maybe, take vitals, give shots, attend to the hygienic matters of a patient, administer doctor prescribed medicines, and other types of (very necessary but again not “heroic”) routine activities. How then are nurses all of a sudden society’s heroes? What about assisted living caregivers? Again, not a very courageous job as far as abilities go. But you only need to drive through communities and you see the huge, commercially-generated signs that herald “HEROES WORK HERE". The same signage is seen at many schools – teachers - Heroes? Since when? Again, not commonly looked on as being anything that requires courage, bravery, or strength as we have always associated (historically) as the meaning of Hero ~ teaching, nursing ~ these are just jobs.


But, ah ha! Now, we drill down to the other tier meaning of hero that denotes caring, compassion, putting other’s first, noble, protector, and role model and here we can find all sorts of heroes! Almost anyone can be a hero to someone.


So, does this dilute or elevate what it means to be a Hero? Can it be that being a nurse or a caregiver to the elderly during COVID19 all of a sudden elevates to Hero status for merely doing the job that you have always done that was (sadly) underpaid and underappreciated before the pandemic? I think the answer to this is YES. Seeing the selfless way these people got up and left their families and their safe homes every day to go into the heart of a rampantly contagious disease without thought of their own well-being, can only be described as brave, courageous, and yes, heroic. While the rest of us hunkered down and tried to protect ourselves, these people walked into the valley of the shadow of death and feared not. How quickly we now have forgotten the importance these people played in the lives of us all, of society as a whole, and to so many of them, to the health detriment, and even death, to themselves. And to think that now some of these “heroes” have been fired from their jobs (of course, not during the wave of the pandemic, but afterwards, for political reasons, when their heroic efforts weren’t so much in demand). Shameful.


Sadly, I cannot include teachers, the other Heroes I mentioned above, in any of the heroic descriptions to fit any meaning of the word (and, owning a preschool, I have known many caring, patient, role models of teachers myself that did follow these definitions and I am sure there still are many teachers that do and that did want to do the right and “heroic” thing during the pandemic for the sake of our children). I cannot judge the reasons that the teachers’ unions or (maybe) some teachers took the stance during the pandemic that they did, and even afterwards when everything had gotten back to “normal” and they were still holding out, even seeing teachers going anywhere they wanted, but into the classrooms, how do they classify themselves in any form of the word heroic? I fear the actual damage, not heroic benefit, to our children their unexplainable behavior has caused.


Heroes. Are you a hero to anyone? I don’t think I am. I can’t put my finger on anything I have done in my 63 years that could be described as heroic in the way I was raised to think of a hero. But in today’s meaning, maybe it’s not too late. I just saw an article in a magazine that was highlighting “everyday Heroes”. I’m not really sure what that means, but maybe it means something will come my way that gives me the chance to be a hero. I certainly hope that my opportunity to become a hero doesn’t occur due to any sort of physical or harmful situation to anyone, heaven forbid. But I also think maybe a very important aspect of actually being a hero is that it is not something that a person can go looking to become. It happens, and if you are a true hero, I don’t think you even think twice about what you are doing as being brave or out of the ordinary ~ you do it becomes it needs to be done. That, to me, is the true definition of a hero.


Next up……Are You Patriotic?

Always remember to insert a giggle giggle ~~ Kay 😊

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