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Definition of a Hero

  • Date Submitted: 11/08/2010 02:23 PM
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The Definition of a Hero
What is the definition of a hero? Dictionary.com states the word as “a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities”, but it has become common to dismiss the definition of a hero. But what exactly determines what the word means? Merriam Webster’s explanation of a hero is “a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability,” and we tend to believe that people who are idols, icons, role models or mentors can also be a hero. I believe that one can play those roles, but it takes much more to be a hero. My understanding of a hero is someone who takes a risk to do something crucial or life changing without wanting or needing anything in return.
The article “What Is a Hero”, written by Peter H. Gibbon, explains that there is no “extraordinary achievement” for being a hero. The writer argues that there is a trend to consider a hero to be aristocratic, singling people out for great courage, and that we are using the term today for “decent people who sacrifice or try to make a difference” (Gibbon 227).
In a different sense, men who are courteous to women—opening the door for them, paying for dinner, etc.—aren’t considered heroes. Besides gentlemen, people who drive others for a living (bus, limo, and taxi drivers, etc.) play the same role and are never recognized with that term. They aren’t heroes, but idols and role models. An idol can belong under the same branch of a hero, and a role model is someone who is imitated by his or her ways or actions. In other words, a hero can be an idol, but an idol cannot be a hero. One can be an idol by simply being a symbol of something worshipped to another person, like a parent, pastor, or principal at school. At my high school we had two principals who set great examples for the students. They walked around and socialized with us, telling jokes and making sure we were on top of our studies. They also maintained the...

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