To Be or Not to Be a Hero

Someone recently brought up what I thought was an interesting perspective on being a hero. We all wonder what we would do to save a stranger. Would we jump in front of a Mack truck to push a child out of harm’s way? Would we step into a vicious group attack on a single person in a rescue effort? I think we all hope our finest instinct would propel us toward risking our lives for the sake of another human being. Our highest selves. There is no thought in such a situation. One acts. 

But here’s the thing that was called to my attention. If you save the life of another human being by losing your own, then that person’s  family is spared the trauma and loss of the death of their loved one, but the hero’s family suffers it instead. The hero trades his/her life for the life of the original victim…Is that fair to the hero’s family?

I don’t know where I’m going with this… Any thoughts, anyone?


7 Responses to “To Be or Not to Be a Hero”

  1. Amber Says:

    Thank you for this one my friend… point taken!!! Really wonderful.

  2. SanityFound Says:

    Think to me the real question is would you be able to live with yourself knowing you did nothing?

    I once saved a 6 year old boy from drowning, in the process of keeping him above water I almost drowned. I don’t regret doing it for a moment, it wasn’t to spare the family it was to spare his life. I did it not because I am worthless but because I couldn’t watch and do nothing, I couldn’t just let him drown so that I would live. If someone hadn’t come to save us both at the time they did I would’ve died but I would’ve died knowing I did all I can.

  3. Roberto @ Says:

    It is a interesting question. I like to think that I will react if such situation presents itself. I recently wrote about the case of Kitty Genevese ( what about Kitty?)and diffusion of responsibility. In her case, people expected others to react.

    I’m always stunned by the number of onlookers while a tragedy happens before in front of them. At the end of the day, I believe it is a personality trait for people to act. Many heroes react to the situation and then process the taken risk.

    Great post!

  4. mssc54 Says:

    Wow, I certainly do have a little over 19 months of thoughts on this.

    You can see why here and also here

    It has been my experience that the hero doesn’t think in terms of losing his/her life. They only think in terms of how to help others.

    I will say that (initially) it can be very difficult for the surviving family.

  5. Bill Howdle Says:

    This is very thought provoking. I think we all would like to think of ourselves in somewhat of a heroic style but if really given the time to stop and think about a situation would we be? I don’t know and something I don’t think any of us will ever really know until presented with a situation.
    I think most of the time it is just an automatic reaction to try to save another. Real thought isn’t given to it until after the fact. I still like to think that I would be heroic, hope I never have to find out.

  6. psychscribe Says:

    mssc54- i went to your website and read your poignant story. i encourage other readers to go and read it as well…so sorry for your loss…

  7. psychscribe Says:

    Sanity, I am so proud to be your friend.

    Bill, I know what you mean – none of us knows what we would do in the instant that such bravery is needed.

    Roberto, I actually was thinking of the Kitty Genevese story after I wrote this…maybe I should resurrect it from a news archive and present it here…I still remember the unbelievable horror of the whole thing…

    Amber, you’re very welcome!

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