When I watch documentaries on 9/11, war and other catastrophic events, I’m moved by that moment when people know that the odds are stacked against them.
I wonder what people are feeling. Are they paralyzed with fear? Do they rise about their fear and transform into heroes, putting others ahead of themselves?
There are stories we’ve read and seen about heroes. Most of them are lauded for courage in high octane moments, such as the first responders who run toward danger when others are running away. I’m in awe of those people.
On the other hand, there are small heroic gestures that can go unnoticed because the events are “ordinary,” and not so high profile.
In my work as a professor, I see students who struggle financially putting themselves through school and maintaining families and work. Exhausted, they still have time to show kindness and generosity to each other, and sometimes to their professor. These are heroes.
In my work as a psychologist, I saw people face their demons, their darkest fears, and bring light and awareness to their challenges rather than running away. These are heroes.
The one common denominator in all heroes is the ability to overcome fear with love. Heroes are able to move beyond material danger to a sense of connection to a level of truth that becomes visible through the eyes of love.
Here’s to all of the heroes, recognized and anonymous, who carry the banner of human nature to its highest peak and claim that territory for us all.