Define “Hero”

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Phoebe Wang, Staff Writer

With superhero movies and stories on the rise, the term “hero” seems to be reserved for crime-busting aliens with superhuman powers who save the world from evil. As an avid Marvel and Percy Jackson fan, I admit my unhealthy fascination with the genre. While these mighty warriors dominate fantasy dimensions, it isn’t an exaggeration to claim that our world is also in need of such heroes. Guess what, you don’t need a genetic mutation to apply.

The dictionary defines “hero” as someone who displays courageous qualities or who has accomplished admirable feats. It doesn’t mention Herculean strength or mind-bending psychic abilities, but rather focuses on achievements. At the same time, modern portrayals of heroes seem to insist that superpowers, or majestic skills, are a defining factor in the job description. Even if you take a more realistic view on it, heroes seem to label the scientists making breakthroughs in the medical field, tech-savvy geniuses who develop new world-changing products, record-breaking athletes or the courageous generals leading their men to victory. I don’t see myself on that list, and I doubt most people could. The corruption of the word, its association with success and fame, misleads people and causes it to lose its true meaning.

So, whichever you may believe, I disagree. I disagree with the dictionary definition, the realist views, and the fictional dreams. Not to say that successful people aren’t heroes, but rather that it is certainly not the most important factor. I believe that the term “hero” is much more applicable and accessible, available to anyone regardless of their age, gender, status, ability, or prior accomplishments. To me, my knight in shining armor could be a friend who cheers me up after a breakup, a teacher who listens and advises me on my problems, or even a stranger who points me to the nearest restroom. 

Three words: heroes help others. That is the only requirement. Whether they act as an indirect source of inspiration, a pillar of support, or give a simple nudge leading others in the right direction, heroes are those who offer their help to those in need. No need to don the cape or wear the suit. I simply want a hand to pull me up and push me forward. The line between typical civilian and heroic icon is actually incredibly thin, and the border between the two can be very easily crossed. Simple acts may seem like an everyday thing to you, but to others, your kindness might be the whole world. As AHS Student Council President Braden Wong mentioned, “one person might not change the world, but changing the world for one person happens every day.” 

There are some amazing things happening out there. Local firefighters and police live a life dedicated to ensure a community’s safety. Multiple examples show them risking their everything to preserve ours. The teachers who work for our success. Our parents who devote their lives so that we can enjoy ours. The friends who make you smile in your darkest moments. When your life feels bright, it’s because every day, someone shines a bit of their light on you. Every moment is a moment to appreciate all that others have done for us. 

There is a hero in each of us; potential in ultimately saving the world. Maybe I’ll never fight monsters, or find a theorem that debunks mathematics, but I can make someone smile today. That’s enough for me. 

Graphics courtesy of ARTSQB.COM