“Hero”, for having so few letters, is a really big word. An important word. One of those concepts like art – hard to define, but you know it when you see it. The people who brought down United Airlines flight 93 on 9/11 rather than let it crash into some building in Washington DC – right there, heroes, no question about it. No gray area there. You sacrifice your life for the greater good, you’re pretty much a hero, regardless of what else you’ve done. That’s heroism associated with a specific action. But there are other types of heroes, and each of us have our own definitions. When I started thinking about this month’s theme, I discovered that I haven’t had a real relationship with the word “hero” in the grand sense for some time.
I think I had heroes when I was a child. To be honest, I don’t remember who they were (but to be fair, I don’t remember much of my childhood). When I started pondering the issue, all I could come up with were Meg Murray from the Wrinkle in Time series and Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H. Can a fictional character be a hero? He or she can be the hero of a story, sure, but a person’s hero… my hero… I don’t think so. At least, not for me. Your mileage may vary.
I don’t know who my heroes are in the grand sense. But I know that I have role models. I recently wrote here that Amy Poehler is my hero, and that’s not untrue. She’s a woman who is similar enough to me that I recognize her life, but she’s achieved so much more than I ever will that I admire her immensely. She’s never saved another person’s life or endangered herself for someone else (that I’m aware of, at least – I mean, she could have, she’s Amy Fuckin’ Poehler), but she makes a difference in the world in a way that I wish I could. I think she’s either a really big role model or a minor hero for me.
Audrey Hepburn is another of my role models. A graceful, intelligent, beautiful woman who had a beautiful soul as well. On top of being a wonderful actress, she was a tireless ambassador for UNICEF later in her life. I wish I were that selfless. Joss Whedon, mastermind of Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and Avengers to name a few, writes spectacular dialog and fantastic, strong female characters and is an avowed feminist and all around bad-ass. He’s the type of person who inspires the people around him to say “yes” to whatever he’s asking of them before they even know what it is. I want to inspire people like that.
My role models are people who exhibit an aspect of myself that I would like to be more of, that I want to hit harder. Are those heroes? Maybe they are. Maybe it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other, and I’m just being angsty over semantics. Regardless, I think I need more heroes. Who are your heroes, or your role models, and can I borrow them for a while?