Raising Voices: What Does Hero Mean to You?
The very definition of hero is a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Heroes are people or fictional characters of immense stature that are looked up to by many people, especially children, for hundreds of years. Long ago the word “hero” had a fairly specific meaning for a select few types of people or characters. Today the word “hero” still has the same core meaning, but it’s being used for a rather wide variety of people and purposes. Today’s overuse of the word “hero” for accomplishments big and small seems to have a desensitizing effect that diminishes the significance of the word. While for some people, the use of the word hero for people isn’t a big deal, for others it can be. It can be seen as insulting to them to compare one person to another who they believe to fit the true meaning of a hero.
So, hundreds of years ago, when things like Kings still ruled the world, the word hero had a general meaning for certain people. The word hero was awarded to people like knights and those returned from war. Knights were men that would protect their homeland with their very lives; they would go to great lengths and do great deeds to protect what was precious to them. Young boys would see these knights in shining armor, they would hear about the mighty feats they had accomplished and idolize them. They would want to grow up to be just like them because they were heroes. Heroes are the very *pinnacle* of what a good, hard working, determined, and a courageous person should be. Heroes go out of their way and risk their lives for the sake of others, and because of this selflessness, they are well respected by most, if not all, people.
Humans are social creatures by nature. We need to socialize with others, our lives literally depend on it. As infants humans cannot survive on their own, they need other human beings to raise them and other human beings to surround themselves with, to shape themselves as they grow older. Heroes are at the top of the social ladder and, being a human being, this would be an amazing position for most. You would literally be the ideal that others want to be; other people idolize you so much that they wish to be just like you. It is hard to even imagine the pleasure one would feel from knowing that others want to be just like you. The draw to want to be a hero is the want to be known, to be respected as a hero, as the epitome of what a great person should be. So, the draw to be a hero is just innately within most humans because we are social creatures.
Hero doesn’t quite mean hero anymore, but it does. Today it seems that the term hero is loosely awarded to many people; some being heroes to all if not most, some being heroes to a specific group, and some just not being heroes at all. Recently there was news of a panic caused by a Middle Eastern boy who built a clock, brought it into class, and showed his teacher who thought it might be a bomb; the boy was arrested. After everything was sorted out, the boy was promptly released and welcomed into the White House and deemed a hero by President Obama himself, and they hung the clock in the White House. This is an example of someone who isn’t a hero at all (in my opinion) but was still deemed one even without being any of the *words* that make a hero. I would like to speculate though that the President just used this term for the boy as to nip the issue in the butt before it became a bigger issue like the Michael Brown riots that occurred because of the rapid spread of misinformation. Now, not too long ago there was the whole Bruce Jenner’s “Call me Caitlyn” ordeal where basically a former Olympic Gold Medalist had to gender change to become a woman. Because of Bru- *cough* “Caitlyn’s” gender change and being so open and confident about it and his…her..? encouragement to other transgendered people, he became a hero. This is an example where this person is deemed a hero to a specific group of people, because to most people who are aren’t transgendered, this means nothing to them at all. Why would a non-transgendered person see a famous new transgendered as a hero, someone worth idolizing? To me, this person isn’t a hero, but I’m not saying that he/she isn’t a hero to a specific group of people.
Lastly, there are what I consider to be the real and true heroes as an American—the United States Military and all of the men and women who serve. No matter what gender you are or what beliefs hold, you can’t say that the men and women who serve aren’t heros. You just can’t because without them you couldn’t be here, they literally protect the ground where your house is, where you sleep, and eat. Everything you do in in America is protected by those men and women who risk their lives everyday. These people are what can be considered the “real” heroes that meet every word that describes a hero and more.
So, overall today the word hero has gained new meanings or uses compared to some time ago when it just had one general use for a certain type of person. Today the term hero is not only awarded to the people that most deserve it, but also to many people who-depending on your opinion-doesn’t really deserve it. The use of the term hero for people who don’t necessarily deserve it (again this depends on your stance) can upset people who feel that it’s a term reserved for people who most deserve it. When others use its new or alternate meanings, it can degrade the term that is used for “real” heroes, and this can be insulting or disrespectful to those who consider certain people to be real heroes that match the original meaning of the term. So, in general I think that the new meanings for hero can have a negative impact as when used for people who aren’t “worthy” of the term it can upset people who believe that it’s being used for or on those people when there are “real heroes” who are worthy of the term and to use it on other people is disrespectful to the real heroes.
In the end, I believe that the term hero has found new meaning as it’s used for other people in certain groups. I think hero’s new definition should be saved for people that are direct inspirations, or true heroes, or a movement, or society of some sort, but to name random people who aren’t true heroes can cause tension for those who believe there are “real heroes” and abuse of the term is disrespectful. So all in all, while the word hero has found new uses, I think it should be respected as a term that holds meaning and shouldn’t be loosely used or abused as it is disrespectful to”real heroes” and their families and supporters.
And when I asked Jiovanni who his hero was, he answered,
[bctt tweet=”And now we ask you, who is your hero or how do you define the word hero? There are no wrong answers.”]
“The men and women in the military.”
Until next time, scribe happy and raise voices!