Heros by David Bowie
Photo by Gabriel Bassino on Unsplash
What is it to be a hero? Well, this 1977 classic hit from David Bowie talks about it being possible, even if for just a day, so my guess is it must be pretty difficult.
In our competitive macho society, we are encouraged to picture heroes as those with almost super-human attributes. They are presented as people that we might occasionally experience being like if we strive really hard and make the necessary sacrifices. Perhaps, the idolisation of this form of hero has more to do with a desire for success, power, money, looks or a fantasy of a life we can only dream of. Whatever the vision of a hero, it often seems out of reach with respect to our everyday experiences.
But is this really a useful vision of a hero? I want to be the heroic version of me more than for just one day. The heroic me is the one that makes the right choices, says the right things and acts in the right way on a daily basis. When I start to aspire to this form of everyday heroism I’m struck that it’s not super-human excellence to which I really aspire, but a heroic form of humility.
Rather than taking actions to impress others with my (very much lacking) super-human abilities, our lives and communities are often so much better for making choices which contribute to the wellbeing of those around us on a much more ordinary level. If we were to act like this consistently, there would be no need for the type of hero that comes in to clear up the mess to the admiration of others.
Developing this heroic humility starts with recognising we are anything but super-human and so need to love and look after ourselves if we are ever to be a real hero to others. Re-considering our understanding of heroism to be one of character rather than outrageous actions helps us to reframe real heroism from being a macho occasional act to a consistent loving attitude.
This reminds me that every day I can make a choice to be a real hero for more than just that day.