What Makes a Real Hero?

Among my many interests is reading about the lives of men and women who in times of great peril put their own lives on the line to help others who faced the threat of repression and oppression. Often, these folks know that they had everything to lose even though they were doing the right thing. Also, they tended to go against the current popular thought of their day. For example, during WWII in Germany and parts of Europe, while the Jews and certain other minorities were being vilified by the state and local governments, officials and the general populous, the true heroes where those who stepped in to hide, protect, assist and help these downtrodden and oppressed as best as they could with the means that they had at their disposal.

There have been a number of such people throughout history. Some of these include Oskar Schindler, Raoul Wallenberg, Vladka Meed, Corrie ten Boom (and the ten Boom family), Paul Rusesabagina and many more. These men and women, during a time of grave danger and great crisis, put themselves in danger to directly help others under severe persecution when they could easily have sat back and continued as if life was normal. But now and forever more will they be remembered for their good deeds and service to humanity by the generations of families that owe their lives directly to them.

So what is it that tends to define the character of such men and women? I think the following traits listed below are what separate them from the rest of us.

  • They are not afraid to lose everything that they have, be it financial, material, and social or even their family. They know that they have to do what is right.
  • They tend to know full well the risks (or at least the repercussions) that they are taking and the potential repercussions they face if they were exposed.
  • They tend to be selfless. They do not do what they do for the sake of heroism or self gratification; they do it simply because it is the right thing to do…
  • They tend to go against the current norms… or at the very least, while majority turn a blind eye to the happenings around them, they step up to the plate

Although there are other traits that such men and women may have, I think the above three are key, and it is these four traits that what truly make them true heroes. I have also come to realize that these same traits are not special in the sense that you have to be born with them. I think some do have these traits but may not necessarily be aware that they do have these traits until a situation arises that forces us to choose whether or not we want to do what is right in the eye of the Lord and in the face of humanity….

As I write all these, we read about new report released by the U.N. human rights team implicating the Sudanese Government with crimes against humanity in the Darfur region of Sudan and the lack of adequate response from the international community.

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