The internet is all abuzz this week with words like hero, courage, and bravery. My Facebook newsfeed is cluttered with rebuttals: “this isn’t bravery, that is” or “that’s not a hero, this is.” These serve to prove my point before I even make it… we each have different needs for role models and different views of what a hero is. Can we agree that while a person may have no effect on me, I can respect your need to look up to them?
Constantly seeing these words the last few days has, as most things do, made me think. Do I have a role model? Who do I think is a hero? What does bravery mean to me? Why am I talking to myself?
I’ve never been one to hold up anyone as a personal hero, because they’re just people, and people will disappoint you. I felt sorry for those who looked up to Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong as their heroes because, as people are wont to do, they disappointed their fans. I admired Tiger Woods’ skill as a golfer, but there’s nothing brave about that. I daresay he showed more bravery going home to his wife after the news broke of his rampant infidelity than he ever showed on a golf course.
Don’t get me wrong. I do admire and look up to people. For instance, my husband, who is a firefighter. Every time he leaves for work, he knows (and I know) that he could die doing his job. He, and all other firefighters, run into burning buildings that even rats have the good sense to run out of.
My husband is also in the Air National Guard (another job that could kill him!). He volunteered to go to Afghanistan in 2005, then went again in 2010 on orders. Not only that, but he married me while I had two teenage daughters AND has survived my menopausal years. So yeah, I guess you could say that my husband is my hero.
Alex Trebek was once called a hero for chasing down a burglar who had broken into his hotel room. I’m not sure if the hero status had anything to do with the fact that Mr. Trebek had to put on his underwear before pursuing the burglar, but I don’t see anything heroic about chasing someone down to get your own stuff back. Again, we all have different ideas of bravery.
For some, bravery is saying or doing something despite the paralyzing fear of it and the overwhelming desire to do the opposite. You may have unknowingly been someone’s hero by standing up for yourself, exposing a secret or breaking tradition. There’s a song by Sara Bareilles called Brave. In it, she indicates that simply telling the truth is brave…
We’ve all been brave at one time or another. I am certain that we have each been a hero to our parents, our children, our friends, even to a stranger at least once. Weren’t we all brave the first time we jumped into a swimming pool? My sister was brave enough to jump in when she was 3 years old, but she couldn’t swim. My grandfather jumped in and saved her. He was definitely our hero that day. But sometimes, when we don’t feel brave, or courageous, or heroic, we want to look to someone else for inspiration. Let’s not belittle each other by tearing down the ones who inspire us.
And here’s another perspective on bravery. A blogger named Jessica Kane posted this picture…
After she posted it, she received A LOT of comments about how brave she was. What exactly were people saying? That she was brave to post a picture of her body that doesn’t meet with the beauty standards set by some arbitrary group? Here’s what she had to say about it:
There’s not much I can say after that, except this…