On my post front page I used the Mr. Rogers quote that so many are using right now and none more eloquently than my friend Andrea at:
to remind us that “Love Wins”.
I’m concerned that there is a tendency these days to use “hero” as a word that is completely interchangeable with the word “idol”. They aren’t the same and they never should be!
In Boston we saw what true heroes look like. They were first responders, doctors, nurses, paramedics, military personnel and perhaps most importantly everyday citizens who ran toward the blast rather than away from it. They may not have had any training but they ran to help.
They may not be any different from the person who jumps into freezing water to save someone while disregarding the danger to themselves. Where saving someone else is more important than perhaps saving themselves.
I’m not denigrating in any way those people who literally ran for their lives. It’s human instinct and in all likelihood most of us would run.
But I said “most of us”. Those brave people who ran toward the blast without any regard for their personal well-being are all heroes. They didn’t start out the day thinking “I’m going to be a hero today” but that’s what they ended up being.
In the news reports we saw ordinary citizens without training and inadequate medical supplies trying to save a life or get someone out of harm’s way.
They didn’t stop and think, “I wonder what religion this person is” or “I’m not too keen on the color of that person’s skin, I think I’ll help someone else.” No, they helped who they could with what they had.
Most of us have probably seen what will be an iconic photo from the carnage. A man in a cowboy hat, holding the artery from a man’s leg with his bare fingers so that the man won’t bleed to death. What isn’t shown in most pictures is the devastation to this man’s legs. Yet here we have a man doing what he can in the face of the carnage.
Maybe you don’t know the entire story of this man with the hat. The man’s name is Carlos Arredondo. He was in the VIP section across from the first blast. Veterans were running the race in honor of their fallen comrades. He was there in honor of this son who was killed in Iraq. He was also mourning the loss of his youngest son who committed suicide after his older brother’s death because he couldn’t visualize life without him.
If anyone should have been running away from the carnage it was Carlos Arredondo but he was one of the first bystanders on the scene.
So let’s remember that these are the real heroes and not a singer who catches a lucky break, not the pro basketball player who makes that game winning three pointer, not the star quarterback who makes the best throw of his career or the receiver who grabs it.
These people aren’t heroes. They are idols.
So the next time you hear someone or even yourself say, “He’s my hero” referring to one of these idols, please remember one thing:
There’s a reason the TV show is called American Idol and not American Hero.
So if you want to, feel free to idolize the entertainers, sports figures, and wealthy entrepreneurs but for the sake of the real heroes please don’t call these people heroes because they’re not.