Written by David Everett
For all the heroes around us it’s hard to actually match the word with anyone I have known. I have had the pleasure and honour of knowing many good people who have performed selfless, brave and sometimes downright wonderful actions. But heroic, that I’m not really sure about. Certainly I have read of them; the truly heroic people whose actions are just that – courageous, selfless, and without the thought of what it could mean to them after the fact.
I have long been associated with people for whom, across all types of media, their job grants them the title of hero. In fact, I have spent the last 20 plus years working in positions that seem to come with the title or descriptor of hero.
As a Paramedic I faced some absolutely horrible situations and then did it all again the next shift. I controlled, talked to, or took down violent or confused individuals to stop them from hurting themselves or others. This was all in amongst a myriad of day to day, ho hum, activities. Never once did I think of myself as a hero. And to this day, I still don’t see any reason for myself (or the occupation in general) to be given the title of hero. That’s not to diminish the job, or others professions like it. It’s hard, often
thankless, results in long term health issues, and definitely isn’t family or socially friendly. But it’s something we could somehow do and enjoy doing it, so we just did it.
I grew up feasting on comics at every opportunity. So I very much know what a fantastical hero is, and how to recognise one in the wild. Tights and a cape obviously make them easier to spot.
(Though I am with Edna Mode on the subject of capes. Those unwieldy pieces of fabric are seriously contrary to safe practice).
In my younger years this voracious reading of comics no doubt skewed my thoughts on what makes a hero. Chances are it skewed my mind more towards violent actions in the protection of another. But as I’ve matured I have come to see heroes and heroic actions in a different light.
I think we are surrounded by heroes. Small heroes. Quiet heroes.
Heroes who don’t even know that they are heroes, and wouldn’t even think of themselves as that even after it’s been pointed out.
Heroics don’t require big actions, they just require action. Perhaps I’m being sentimental or maybe it’s my personal backlash against the overuse of the title ‘hero’ in the media.
I so love and respect the everyday heroes more than others, because as I’ve been writing this I’ve started to redefine my personal definition of a hero. I recognise that a hero is measured by the receiver of the action, not by the observer or doer.
My idea of a hero is someone who interrupts their own activity to push someone’s shopping trolley out to their car.
Saying ‘that’s not on’ to a friend making racist or sexist comments.
Crossing the floor of parliament.
Turning up at 3am because your friend needs your help.
Giving blood when you don’t have the time spare.
Or taking the low paid job because having you there makes a genuine difference.
These are the sort of actions that really mean something to me. I definitely hold strong criteria to define an action or person as heroic. However, what I have learnt is that heroics exists across a spectrum, and it is not up to us to define an action as ‘heroic’.
Rather, it is what an action means to the person for whom it is performed.