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Thread: What is a hero?

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default What is a hero?

    Often you see on the news someone being interviewed and saying “no, no I’m not a hero, I just was in the right place at the right time”, while others insist that they were a hero.

    What are the criteria for being a hero for you?

    Are there scenarios where you would say “any decent person should behave like that in that situation”. Vs “wow that was heroic”?

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    A hero is someone who puts themselves on the line to help other people. Most people on the news don't like being called a hero because frankly, most people whop are egotistical enough to want other people to call them heroes aren't generally selfless enough to risk bodily harm for someone else. Being the center of attention makes most people feel self conscious and heroic behavior is usually an in the moment reaction to a situation, not a premeditated action.

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    This is not a complete description. I am merely describing a single phenomenon about this issue.

    Put in a position where something somewhat dangerous in the heroic line needs to happen, there are several possible reactions. Most of these lead to not doing it. But these two reactions (among others, perhaps) lead to actually taking the heroic action despite the danger.
    1. Some people look at such a situation, and realize that it calls for a hero. Not being 100% heroes, they ask themselves what to do, and eventually decide to do the heroic thing. These people are not inherently heroes. They made a conscious decision to do the heroic thing. They have acted heroically, but are not, in my mind, fully heroes. [They still deserve all the praise for their actions, of course.]
    2. Some people see the situation and have no choice to make. They only see one possible course of action, because they are inherently heroes. They probably believe that anybody else would do the same thing.

    Ironically, Type 1 will likely call themselves heroes after the fact, because they made the decision to be heroic. Type 2, being inherently heroes, will never know that there was a choice to be made. Therefore they believe that they were just in the right place at the right time, and do not believe themselves to be heroes.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    I guess from my perspective, if you go out of your way to help someone in danger, you are a decent person.
    If you knowingly and willingly put yourself at risk to help someone in danger, then you are a hero.

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    1. Some people look at such a situation, and realize that it calls for a hero. Not being 100% heroes, they ask themselves what to do, and eventually decide to do the heroic thing. These people are not inherently heroes. They made a conscious decision to do the heroic thing. They have acted heroically, but are not, in my mind, fully heroes. [They still deserve all the praise for their actions, of course.]
    2. Some people see the situation and have no choice to make. They only see one possible course of action, because they are inherently heroes. They probably believe that anybody else would do the same thing.
    I think that it is somewhat unfair to call someone 'fully (or not) a hero' because of their thought process leading up to a heroic action. After all, it could be argued that the ones who are not inherently heroes are more heroes than those that are, since the second type will never be faced with the choice to do something that might put themselves less at risk, but the first type, even knowing that they have that choice, choose to do the heroic thing anyway. Not that I think that is correct either. In the end, you either take the heroic action or you do not, for whatever reasons you might have, and if you do are a hero. If you do not, you are not a hero. There isn't any state of being 'more than not-a-hero but less than an actual hero'.

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    I entirely agree with TwoLegsArmchair. Someone who willingly puts themselves in danger to save somebody else is a hero, regardless of their thought processes at the time--yes, even if they did it because they thought the fame and adulation would help them get a good example of whatever gender partner they wanted, because they still took the risk rather than standing by.

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    I entirely agree with TwoLegsArmchair. Someone who willingly puts themselves in danger to save somebody else is a hero, regardless of their thought processes at the time--yes, even if they did it because they thought the fame and adulation would help them get a good example of whatever gender partner they wanted, because they still took the risk rather than standing by.
    Unless they also orchestrated the danger in the first place, to create a scenario where they could come and save the day and be a "hero"...

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    "What is a hero" is basically the thesis of one of my favorite movies, Hero. Not the Quentin Tarantino one, the Dustin Hoffman one.

    Spoiler: Non-spoilery synopsis. Tells about as much as a well-made trailer would
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    Bernie is a genuinely terrible person who saves literally every single person from a crashed, burning airplane. He is initially resistant to saving them, but his conscience forces him to save everyone. He also steals purses and wallets from the passengers to sell the credit cards. He also lose a shoe in the process. He hitches a ride with a homeless Vietnam vet, John, who is a genuinely good person. He tells John the story, in great detail, and gives John his other shoe.

    The news grabs onto the story of the unknown person who single-handedly saved a plane full of trapped people from burning to death, and offers a million dollar reward for an interview. The lost shoe was found in the aftermath, and the matching shoe is used to prove the identity. Bernie gets arrested for selling stolen credit cards, and watches from the jailhouse TV John claim the reward, as he has the matching shoe and knows the details of the night.

    Bernie is upset, and wants the million dollars that are rightfully his. However, he sees that John is using his newfound fame and adoration to help and inspire people. Meanwhile, John is absolutely living up to the ideal of his hero status, using his reward money and fame to help sick children and the homeless, but is wracked with guilt over his deception, and with every good act he performs, the people's gratitude and hero worship continuously add on to this guilt.

    I really like how they handled the concept of what a hero is, in that both people have a legitimate claim to the title in their own ways, and both kind of betray the title in their own ways.

    Me, I'm an optimist. I like to believe in the inherent goodness of people. I think a lot of people are heroes at some point, even in some small way, and many of those who aren't have just never had the chance to be heroic.
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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    A hero ain't nothin' but a sandwich.


    Shared mostly for the title, though it is a good book.

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    Quote Originally Posted by Velaryon View Post
    A hero ain't nothin' but a sandwich.


    Shared mostly for the title, though it is a good book.

    I actually read that one as a kid in the late 1970's (or maybe early 80's).

    I was a "latch-key" kid, and I'd go to the South Berkeley Public Library Branch, which is where I read the book.

    Librarians and library workers remain my heroes.

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    I actually read that one as a kid in the late 1970's (or maybe early 80's).

    I was a "latch-key" kid, and I'd go to the South Berkeley Public Library Branch, which is where I read the book.

    Librarians and library workers remain my heroes.
    The helicopter parents are doing everything they can to make "latch-key" kids illegal these days. It is amazing how much more freedom we had as kids.
    That is one of the reasons that the show "Stranger Things" resonated with me. I have nostalgia for the whole "kids on bikes" lifestyle of going out and exploring the world... with my mullet blowing in the wind. (not that I miss having a mullet, but I do miss having a full head of hair)
    Last edited by Aliquid; 2017-11-20 at 04:22 PM.

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    Often you see on the news someone being interviewed and saying “no, no I’m not a hero, I just was in the right place at the right time”, while others insist that they were a hero.

    What are the criteria for being a hero for you?

    Are there scenarios where you would say “any decent person should behave like that in that situation”. Vs “wow that was heroic”?
    People who risk their own safety to help others are heroic.

    What they themselves think is irrelevant. Most people think they are the definition of normal.

    You'll find a lot of rapists who'll tell you: "Oh, why, every man would have raped that unconscious woman, how could I have resisted that temptation?", and one would have to be a complete and utter idiot to think that this makes them somehow less guilty of a crime.

    The same goes for heroes. The belief that anyone else would have done the same doesn't make them any less heroic. Just adds a certain idealism to their heroism.

    There probably are a lot of heroes who acknowledge that not everyone else would have done the same (especially with people who work against oppression - feminists who get death threats or are murdered, even, anti-slavery activists, people who worked against the nazis; they all could/can see plainly that most people do not do what they do, and quite a lot of people actively work against them) and that doesn't make them any less heroic.

    (Just like a criminal knowing that not all people are as horrible as them doesn't make them any less of a criminal)

    It is just a very human tendency to assume that you are the norm and every normal person would have made the same decisions.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    Sometimes I agree with the person who says "no, I wasn't a hero" when others keep calling him/her a hero.

    People often use the term "hero" for "you saved someone in danger", but I think it only applies if you have to take personal risk to do so. Time and effort alone doesn't count. That just makes you a good person.

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    One who risks his or her life to protect or save someone is being heroic, or acting heroically for a set period of time. They sort of just, put heroism on, jump into the proverbial fire, do what needs to be done, and then she'd the garment when their work is done.
    Generally, the person doing this will not feel like they are a hero, simply because they aren't. They only stood in for a minute because they were a decent human being, and they happened to be at the right place at the right time.

    These are the ones who might say, "he wasn't looking, so I tackled the shooter before he could kill anyone else," and the ones who say, "I heard crying, so I found my neighbors' son in their apartment, and brought him out of the burning building."

    (Now, there is nothing at all wrong with this, and I am going that we have decent people in the world who do risk their lives for their fellow man. This world is blessed for having people like that in it. I am not trying to insult these people in any way, rather I applaud them for doing what they do.)



    But, on the other hand, if someone lays their life down, (or lays it low,) Now, that is a true hero. It's more of a full-time gig. That is a life that is selfless. That only comes from a heart rooted in real love, (brotherly kind, not romantic, mind you.)
    These are the type that really carry the torch for the cause.

    The only good example that I can think of off of the top of my head for this one that would be okay to post here is Spiderman, as portrayed by Toby McGuire in Spiderman 1&2. (Or, now that I think about it, Disney's Hercules.) You know, with great power comes great responsibility and all that.

    And that's all I have to say about that =)
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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    Yes, there are flawed, vain heros and heros worth admiring as rolemodels. Thus, I defer to the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz:

    "As for you, my fine friend, you're a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate delusion that simply because you run away from danger, you have no courage. You're confusing courage with wisdom. Back where I come from, we have men who are called heroes. Once a year, they take their fortitude out of moth balls and parade it down the main street of the city and they have no more courage than you have. But they have one thing that you haven't got - a medal. Therefore, for meritorious conduct, extraordinary valor, conspicuous bravery against Wicked Witches, I award you the Triple Cross. You are now a member of the Legion of Courage."
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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    I'd say a hero is someone who helps others at cost to themselves, or potential cost to themselves.

    A nice person is someone who helps others, but not necessarily with cost.

    Now, there's obviously different DEGREES of hero-a firefighter who consistently dives into burning buildings, potentially dying each time, to save people is a much greater hero than someone who donates $5 to charity (but, assuming $5 means something to you, I'd still consider you a little hero for that).

    It's easy to be nice. (So easy, in fact, that it baffles me why more people don't do it.) It's not so easy to be a hero.
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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    I'm going to take a moment to call out everyone who thinks that personal danger is required for heroism. Take Jonas Salk, for instance. Polio was a full-fledged plague. Annual epidemics were devastating and terrifying. Nobody was safe. And Jonas Salk up and figured out a vaccination for it. The man could have been a billionaire overnight. The world would have gladly paid for his miracle serum. And he refused to charge for it. He considered it a moral obligation. He likened patenting the formula to patenting the sun. He saved millions, and couldn't even think of making money from it.

    That is a goddamn hero.
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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    I am not sure that that example portrays someone who didn't put himself in personal danger. Like many before him, Salk tested the vaccine on himself (and his family, as well as other volunteers), to make sure that the vaccine wasn't a vehicle for polio infection, since in the thirties attempts from others of testing new vaccines had resulted in mass contagion.

    Anyway, a similar case of heroism was that of Best and Banting, who made the patent for production of insulin available free of charge. This changed and lengthened the lives of millions.

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    I'm going to take a moment to call out everyone who thinks that personal danger is required for heroism.
    Good point. I deliberately said “risk” rather than “danger”. So it could be physical risk, financial risk, social risk. Etc.

    But JNAProductions has a good idea with the phrase “at cost to themselves”. Salk worked hard without asking for financial compensation.

    That’s an interesting concept especially in today’s cut throat financial world. For instance, resisting the temptation of the unethical but technically legal gain of a large amount of wealth off the backs of the desperate. Is that a hero?

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    I´m old-school and german, so that colors my view on the term "hero".

    "heroic deeds" and social class are tied together with expectations. In modern, liberal society, it means "going beyond what´s reasonably excepted to do".

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    Well, they've gotta be strong, and they've gotta be fast, and they've gotta be fresh from the fight.
    They've gotta be sure, and they've gotta be soon, and they've gotta be larger than life.

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    This webcomic strip always comes to mind when I consider the definition of a hero:

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    Quote Originally Posted by Corlindale View Post
    This webcomic strip always comes to mind when I consider the definition of a hero:

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    Unless she's a superhero or Haruhara Haruko, then that picture speaks to me more of defiance rather than heroism as her actions have no chance of success.

    In my opinion there's a fine line between defiance and heroism and while heroism will often include a significant amount of defiance, the difference is in the chance of success or how many people are helped while dooming yourself. If there's no chance of success and/or nobody's helped by your actions, then is it really heroism?

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    I'm going to take a moment to call out everyone who thinks that personal danger is required for heroism. Take Jonas Salk, for instance. Polio was a full-fledged plague. Annual epidemics were devastating and terrifying. Nobody was safe. And Jonas Salk up and figured out a vaccination for it. The man could have been a billionaire overnight. The world would have gladly paid for his miracle serum. And he refused to charge for it. He considered it a moral obligation. He likened patenting the formula to patenting the sun. He saved millions, and couldn't even think of making money from it.

    That is a goddamn hero.
    Still self sacrifice for the good of others. It fits the same general theme.

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    Quote Originally Posted by An Enemy Spy View Post
    Still substantial self sacrifice for the good of others. It fits the same general theme.
    Fixed that for you.
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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    Unless she's a superhero or Haruhara Haruko, then that picture speaks to me more of defiance rather than heroism as her actions have no chance of success.
    Oh, she is definitely going to succeed, Minus is basically omnipotent. Which, of course, is another argument in favor of it being less like heroism, because there is no actual risk to her.

    I just like the pictures showing everyone's different reactions to the disaster, with only one person actually climbing the mountain with a baseball bat. It works as a metaphor for me, even if it's not technically heroism in the context - because if you don't know who Minus is, it's just defiance, and if you do know, it's not really a thing that involves any kind of real effort for her.
    Last edited by Corlindale; 2017-11-27 at 12:22 AM.

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    One who fights for 1) glory, 2) altruism, 3) or abstract ideals such as a champion of justice.

    Regardless of the reason why a hero fights what makes a hero a hero is that he is recognized as a legendary soul. Heroization is just one way to recognize someone as a legendary soul, but there are probably other ways to be / become a legendary soul. Yet heroization aka the greek concept of hemitheoi / the greek hero cult, which recognizes heros not as normal man but also separate from the 12 olympian gods but instead its own form of divine category.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_hero_cult
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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    I am not sure that that example portrays someone who didn't put himself in personal danger. Like many before him, Salk tested the vaccine on himself (and his family, as well as other volunteers), to make sure that the vaccine wasn't a vehicle for polio infection, since in the thirties attempts from others of testing new vaccines had resulted in mass contagion.
    Standard "Wikipedia is not gospel truth" disclaimer, but it's a helluva claim to make if the numbers aren't close to accurate...

    Quote Originally Posted by Wikipedia
    The field trial set up to test the Salk vaccine was, according to O'Neill, "the most elaborate program of its kind in history, involving 20,000 physicians and public health officers, 64,000 school personnel, and 220,000 volunteers." Over 1,800,000 school children took part in the trial.
    So I'm gonna discount the "personal danger" completely, until any evidence to the contrary is presented.

    To everyone else saying that he still took a huge sacrifice in not capitalizing on it, I wholly agree. I was just arguing against taking personal danger as being a necessary component to being a hero.

    Also, Salk deserves a national monument.
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    Quote Originally Posted by littlebum2002 View Post
    It would be nice to just change the title of this thread to be "stuff about Jedi"

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    Those numbers refer to the massive field tests that took place in 1954. They still rank among the largest trial studies ever.
    The first tests were performed in 1952, and, in this early phase, he tested it, among others, on himself and his family. However, it is true that he already had good reason to believe that the vaccines were safe (there was a previous trial on children who had already had polio, on their parents, and others). This was before the vaccine was approved, and was aimed more to taking advantage of its protection, than to testing. There probably also was a different culture and different expectations towards how research and trials should be handled:
    "He felt that he couldn't ask other parents to let him give this vaccine to their children if he wasn't willing to first try it on his own," said Dr. Darrell Salk. This once-common ethic among biomedical researchers would not be tolerated today, he noted, but half a century ago it was regarded as almost an obligatory first stage.
    http://www.seattlepi.com/lifestyle/h...un-1143188.php

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    Default Re: What is a hero?

    I like to think about heroes as about the Heroic Spirits of the Nasuverse.

    "Heroes are those who achieved great deeds in life, having become objects of worship after their deaths".
    Worship isn't literal, it's just about memory and becoming part of humanity myths and legends, becoming part of the cultural identity of a population or a country, or in general of humanity.

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