Are Heroes Born or Made?
Having just watched the video “Everyday Heroes” which captures incredible acts of courage performed by every day people, it is natural to wonder “how would I respond in a situation like that?”
Oftentimes Courage Isn’t a Choice. Its a Reaction
Some of the clips in the “real life heroes video” present precarious situations where even a single second of hesitation could be the difference between life and death. When interviewed, many of the heroes showcased in the compilation video were asked about their thought process that motivated them to respond in the brave manner they did. Their responses are strikingly similar. They didn’t think. The just did.
And perhaps that is what distinguishes the hero from the crowd. Because, often in these situations, there is not a moment to be wasted. The everyday hero doesn’t have time to stop and contemplate their actions or weigh the risks. They act. Propelled by virtues they have deeply embedded within in them. Revealing heroes aren’t born from choice, but made from character.
So we learn, ordinary people who perform extraordinary acts of heroism walked into the situation with a reserve of latent bravery, just waiting to be called upon, a concept laid out in a famous Emily Dickens poem:
We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies—
The Heroism we recite
Would be a daily thing,
Did not ourselves the Cubits warp
For fear to be a King—
Do you want to be a hero? You can be. You can nurture a brave heart and develop a courageous character. And perhaps one day, when crisis surprises you and danger is imminent you will act bravely on behalf of a stranger. But be brave then, you must start now.
A Hero in Training
Heroes are made, and not born in the moment. So how can a person prepare themselves to act courageously if encountered by crisis?
According to psychologists and social scientists, the key to true heroism is small acts of kindness motivated by empathy. You do not need a burning house, or a bad guy, or a natural disaster to hone your heroism. Small acts of kindness are the deeds that develop the character required for huge acts of courage.
You may have noticed in the everyday heroes video, that some people performed amazing feats of bravery while others offered small acts of kindness to strangers in need. Both are considered heroes. So, start now. Be the person who pulled over their motorcycle to help a blind man back on the sidewalk, or the athlete who comforts a distraught competitor. Be the helping hand, the kind smile. These are the little acts that prepare a person for the big ones.