I’ve been thinking about this topic a great deal lately. Heroes. People we hold in the highest esteem. Who are they? What makes them heroes? And I’ve come to some surprising realizations.
Heroes. According to the dictionary a Hero is:
– noun, plural-roes 1. man admired for brave deeds, noble qualities, etc. 2. the main male character in a story, play, etc.
Often a hero is thought of as larger than life. But as I’ve gotten older, that view has changed. I’m so much more a pragmatist about who I view as a hero today.
There’s the man I know who was in a serious relationship. The relationship was winding down and he was fretting how to end it gracefully. That alone is fairly heroic to me. Even though he wanted out of the relationship, he wanted to do it as politely and as friendly as possible. Then he finds out she’s pregnant.
I’ve known plenty of men who run at this point. Others who “man up” and provide financial support. But this guy? He fights, tooth and nail to be a part of this baby’s life. He gets joint custody, puts his new business on the back burner, takes crappy jobs, and anything else he can do to be a dad. That was heroic. He is one of my heroes.
Another is a father of a special needs child. The devotion and absence of self with which this man gives of himself to that child is heroic. He is a hero.
And the Dad who wears neon pink to coach my daughter’s t-ball team. Go Pink Babydolls. That’s self sacrifice.
But as much as I admire these three men and their heroism, these are men that society already recognizes as “good men” and few people would be surprised at the level of esteem I hold them. What may surprise them is the heroes that come from “bad men.”
Like the fellow who would be best described as a womanizer, scoundrel and a mooch. And barely old enough to be considered a man. But he endured seven hours of pain to have the poem he read at his best friend’s funeral be tattooed on his back.
Or the guy who busted a beer bottle over the head of another man. Not that violence is heroic, and taken out of context this might be viewed as a “bad man” situation. With all the information, it was his ex-wife’s new boyfriend. The victim had also beaten the bottle swinger’s four year old son so sever his ear swelled and was black. Perhaps not the best way to deal with the situation, but heroic nonetheless. How many good men dream of doing something similar?
And these are the people I know. There are also those I don’t, but am honored to see their heroic deeds anyway. The burly biker with prison tattoos being ever so gentle in dealing with the twelve year old who’s body is so wrecked with sickness he couldn’t lift his head. Buddy, you made my night at the Stars game.
The thing is, I think there is something heroic in all of us. That moment of compassion when we are more than just ourselves. And I’m less convinced today that the world can be divided into good men and bad men.
Instead there are men. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are bad, and all the time they are human.