- Politics and Social Issues
HERO has become a misused term. What makes a real hero?
Do we insult our true heroes when we throw the term "Hero" around so casually
HERO (Definition): “A person distinguished by courage and admired for brave deeds. A person who has noble qualities and has performed selfless acts. Regarded as a model or an ideal for others due to heroic actions.”
The word hero seems to get thrown around quite a lot, but is it always deserved? The question of what a ‘Hero’ is and how loosely we use the term came to my attention as I was reading the paper this morning. All the New York papers are still praising the NY Giants for their Super Bowl win and a big parade was given in their honor yesterday. One of the local papers—the NY Post—had the headline “Heroes” emblazoned across the front page. Apparently, the Giants are heroes. It reminded me a similar situation when the Yankees won the World Series and the media was calling them “Our hometown heroes”.
Of course, it’s nothing new to call sports figures ‘heroes’. You can look back as far as old songs like “Ya Gotta be a Football Hero” in 1933, which was a popular song during the depression when people were looking for heroes.
I starting thinking of the way we use the term. As with the definition above, I always associated heroism with bravery or sacrifice or selflessness. That’s why I can’t make the connection to these athletes who are paid millions of dollars to play sports. Where is the courage and sacrifice and selflessness?
The brave military men who come back from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are justifiably called heroes. The firemen who sacrificed their lives on September 11th 2001 are rightfully called heroes. Policemen are sometimes called heroes. All of those examples I can understand because they risk their lives to help others, and get paid much less than athletes do.
So where is the connection? I’m trying to find the common thread between the rich professional athletes, and risk-taking soldiers or firemen.
What about Doctors? They save lives, don’t they? Yet if you asked most people whether Doctors were heroes, they’d probably say no because Doctors make so much money and don’t take any personal risks. However, doesn’t the same thing apply to athletes? Don’t they get paid exorbitant amounts of money without risking their lives? So if a doctor isn’t a hero, why are the NY Giants or the Yankees?
I recall a situation that happened during Operation Desert Storm where a pilot crashed behind enemy lines and managed to survive there for several days until he was rescued. After he got home, I read an article that said we shouldn’t call him a ‘hero’ because all he did was save his own life. The article said it was self-preservation, not heroism. So that leads me to wonder, if a soldier is not heroic for saving his own life (which was put in danger in the service of his country) why are Alex Rodriguez or Eli Manning called heroes for collecting a multi-million dollar paycheck to pay games that kids play for fun?
So what do you think makes a hero? Should a quarterback or a first basemen be considered heroic brothers to the 9-11 firemen or the Gulf War veterans? I don’t think so. Do you?