What is a Hero?

I was thinking.  Uh oh.

People are highlighted in the press quite often for doing what I believe to be what a person should do under ordinary circumstances.  If someone is falling, wouldn’t you want to help them?  If someone is trapped, wouldn’t you want to help “untrap” them?  If someone is drowning, wouldn’t you want to try to save them?  I mean, assuming you could SWIM, of course. This seems like Life 101 to me.  Either that, or I am a hero and all I need is a cape and a snappy leotard.

I’ve realized that when there is a problem, I go TOWARD it, not away. I’m one of those people who is not afraid; in fact, when things get tough, I get calmer and more focused than I usually am. I don’t know why but I suspect it’s just the way my brain is wired: there’s a problem; it needs to be fixed. Period. I don’t think I’m a hero. But I don’t expect to be a victim, don’t expect to get hurt; in fact just the opposite. I expect to help. Now, I’ve been dead wrong about that; I have been hurt, and badly, but I never EXPECTED to be. And I still don’t, by the way. I’m just going in to help, scars and all.

Are the media going to train us that standing by and watching while people die or are injured is the norm, and reaching out is heroic? Well if you listen to the news, that’s what you’ll think. I think the stories of today’s heroes should go like this: “Today, fifty people stood by and watched an ordinary man pull a woman out of a wrecked car, just before it burst into flames. The bystanders were glad they didn’t have to venture forth.” 

Now that sounds pretty interesting, don’t you think?  Imagine the interviewer putting the microphone up to one spector’s face, saying, “Sir, today many of our viewers think you are a scaredy cat!  What do you say to that?” The answer should be: I’m not wired to be a hero. Because I think that’s what it boils down to.

It doesn’t take much to lend a helping hand. Well maybe it does. I went below decks once after we lost power and were taking on water by the hundreds of gallons, to retrieve the flashlight…our only remaining light source…in the midst of the ‘storm of the century’. We were sinking. It never occurred to me I might get hurt, or might drown. I just knew we needed that light. So I went to get it. It was pitch dark and I waded in water, searching with my feet for the elusive flashlight. I found it, about half an hour before the Coast Guard rescued us. All I could think was what a great story this would make, how beautiful the storm was in the midst of its fury…and how seasick I was. I was never afraid. Go figure. That’s how I’m wired.

So…what’sa hero? Well, if you run, you ain’t one. hahaha.

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