My siblings and I poke fun of our eldest brother because he ends just about every idle conversation with “You’re my hero.” It’s become rather humorous because he bandies it around to all of us despite the fact that none of us have done a thing to earn such a lofty title.
The humor of it all has ebbed of late because, quite frankly, the word “hero” and its use to describe people have been extremely diluted by the media. For whatever reason, the news and society on a whole have taken a page out my brother’s book and decided to call celebrities, politicians, sports stars – just about anyone known in the news today - heroes.
A celebrity is not the first person I think of when I hear that word. I mean is it extremely courageous to be a good actor? I guess it’s brave to be a boxer or drive a stock car nearly 200 miles per hour around a track, but I wouldn’t put it in the same class as, say, a surgeon who heads to the front lines to help wounded soldiers.
Just the other day, while covering the Olympics, an NBC Today Show anchor called snowboarder Shaun White a hero. Just because this young sensation can do back flips and 360s that normal folks only dream about, he garners the same title as the passengers onboard United Airlines Flight 93?
The overuse had me so annoyed and perplexed, I went online to dictionary.com to look up the definition to make sure I wasn’t missing something. Basically, it states: “Anyone of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.”
OK – so I pretty much had the definition correctly. I didn’t have a pre-disposed meaning through all those childhood comic books I read of Superman, Spiderman, and Batman rescuing people in trouble and being called “Their Hero” as they gallantly exited to save the next damsel in distress.
Of course each case and person has to be judged on their own merit or lack there of, but to make a generalization that most would agree with – we can say most armed forces, policemen, fire fighters, lifeguards, even volunteers are heroes. Anyone who basically overcomes his or her own fear to help others is heroic in one way or another in my book.