Here is the problem. The desire to save the world disappears as we grow up and get “wiser,” but the worship of heroes doesn’t dissipate. That means that we worship those who try to save the world, but we no longer believe we can do anything about that.
Heroes are normal people simply doing the courageous and right thing in difficult situations. The pilot that safely landed his plane on the Hudson River, saving many lives, was really just doing his job excellently. That is it. Heroes are people who took the time to learn how to be the best they could be even if life might never call for that extra skill. In that way, heroes are overrated.
And while it is appropriate to thank them for doing their job well, worshipping them as something special simply breeds the belief that what they do matters, and what you do doesn’t matter. That doesn’t exactly inspire you to step up and be all you can be.
Like I said, we need to thank our Heroes. But maybe more for being diligent in their non-eventful life leading up to the situations that fire-tested their skill, and found them excellent. Realizing that it is diligence in your normal life that creates the capacity to make life saving decisions under pressure, dismantles our hero complex.
It also should motivate us to thank everyday people who do their job well, more often. Thank the cashier who went the extra mile to make you smile today. She is the kind of person that prevents suicides without ever knowing it.
First adjust your expectation of what a hero is, then become one. Heroes aren’t as they are portrayed in the movies. They are not morose, rich billionaires that turn into batman overnight to save Gotham City. Or bumbling journalists that become superman whenever someone’s life is in danger. Heroes live a lot more thankless lives.
They are the fire-fighters who trained relentlessly to save lives, and then when thrust into the flames of the New York twin towers, they do their job well. In fact, they are willing to sacrifice themselves for the people they set out to save, because it’s their job. But 9/11 didn’t make them heroes. A crisis never makes you a hero. A crisis just tests and proves that you already are a hero. That happens in a diligent everyday, unnoticed life.