Everyone Deserves to Be a Hero

Regardless of their flaws and mistakes.

Grace Ekoh
Dec 8, 2019 · 7 min read
Photo by Paula May on Unsplash

Whenever the word hero comes up, we often think of Marvel and DC comic characters. Sometimes we think of army veterans. On rare occasions do we consider our parents, close friends, a stranger in a time of need or even ourselves to be heroes.

The truth is, everyone has someone they look up to. Someone they consider their hero.

Some people tend to assume that every hero is superhuman. Strong, fearless, articulate, wise, and without fault. But there’s no such thing as a superhuman.

Defining The Term ‘Hero’

Merriam-Webster defines a hero as a mythological or legendary figure — often of divine descent and endowed with great strength or ability. Also as a person admired for achievements and noble qualities. One who shows great courage.

“A hero is defined by his or her choices and actions, not by chance or circumstances that arise.” — Ritchie Gibson

A hero is someone who can be brave enough to sacrifice their life for others. And we all have moments we express selfless courage.

It is those moments that set us apart and make us deserving to be called a hero.

Every Hero is Human

As every one of us, every hero is human. They are faced with challenges and difficult decisions on a daily basis. Heroes are ordinary people who go out of their way to do things that make them extraordinary.

Yet, being extraordinary comes at a price. And the price they have to pay for some of the decisions they make is there’s alone to bear.

Every hero carries a burden. They have a past they struggle with, a present they can’t escape and a future they are uncertain of.

A few days ago while catching up on Season 6, Episode 8 of ABC’s TV series — How to Get Away with Murder, Jack Falahee as Connor Walsh in one of the scenes said: “I don’t want to be anyone’s hero.”

This statement made me feel sorry for his character and also got me thinking of the journey that led him to that resolve.

Before now, Connor’s character was a regular law student with a carefree persona. He had values, hopes, and dreams. He aspired to help young people and to be a source of inspiration to them. But when the pages of his life in law school unveiled one bad event after another, all his aspirations came crumbling down.

All of a sudden, he had to carry around the guilt of participating in murders, conspiracies, and cover-ups. He carried the guilt of driving someone to suicide. He carried the burden of lies and much more.

All he had experienced and the burdens he had to bear made him into a different person. Someone he could hardly recognize; someone he believed was undeserving to be anyone’s hero.

Though some of his actions were justifiable based on his motive, yet, being morally justified of an action doesn’t negate the guilt or fear of repercussions.

Every Hero Makes Mistakes

I can relate to Connor’s situation because I have made mistakes, though not to the degree that his character did. But mistakes are mistakes.

I understand how it feels to be haunted by past errors. I understand how it feels to worry about letting people down. These are things that we all struggle with every now and then.

My late mother was my hero. As a widow with seven children to raise, she had to give up a lot to ensure we had food, clothes and a decent education.

She sacrificed her comfort to ensure ours. She wasn’t always right but always did what she thought was right and in our best interest. In spite of all her effort, I remained stubborn and unappreciative — I was young. It may not seem like a worthy excuse, but it’s the truth.

I never understood the level of sacrifice she had to make then. But as soon as I made sense of all she’d done, I hated myself for being an ingrate.

I did my best to make her proud in the years before she passed. I’m still working to make her proud. Though I’m yet to have kids of my own, I still worry about how my kids will view my efforts. I wonder if they will appreciate me or if it will come later.

I guess I’ll have to do what I can to the best of my ability. Having their best interest at heart always, just like my mother.

Connor made mistakes, I’ve made mistakes, everyone makes mistakes. Yet, we are not defined by our mistakes but by the good we do in spite of our past mistakes.

Every Hero Deserves Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a two-way street. One side is forgiving others, the other yourself.

“Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.” — Matthew 6:12 (Good News Bible)

Forgiveness is like breathing. You can’t breathe out without breathing in. In the same way, you cannot receive forgiveness if you don’t forgive. Forgiveness is not selective, it is for everyone. Forgiveness is personal, it is conscious, and it is a choice.

It is letting go of both the wrong and the resentment in order to heal. It is never instant; it is a process.

Forgiveness is seldom easy but it’s necessary in order to find peace.

Anytime I think about forgiveness, I think about Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005), where Cicely Tyson as Myrtle said:

‘When somebody hurts you they take power over you. If you don’t forgive them then they keep the power. Forgive him baby and after you forgive him, forgive yourself.’

This statement never made sense to me at first but over time it became clear. I realized it works both when someone hurts you and when you hurt someone.

When someone hurts us, it is natural for us to want to hurt them back or wish they get hurt in return.

Forgiving them is one thing, forgiving ourselves is another. We all know it is easier to forgive others than it is to forgive ourselves. Likewise, it is easier to accept forgiveness from those we’ve hurt than it is to forgive ourselves for hurting them.

In the case of Connor’s character from ABC’s TV series, How to Get Away with Murder, if he came face to face with all the people he hurt and said ‘I’m so sorry for everything,’ and they, in turn, say ‘we forgive you,’ it would only bring him a level of relief but it wouldn’t take away the guilt and shame he feels.

The guilt and shame he feels can only be lifted when he is able to look himself in the mirror and say ‘Connor, I forgive you and I thank you for teaching me how to be a better person. I will own up to my mistakes but I will not let it define me because I know there’s good in me. Connor, there’s good in you.

I do this too. But sometimes, I write myself an apology letter.

As easy as it sounds, it often involves reliving the events, a lot of tears, guilt and even shame depending on the gravity of what I’d done. Forgiving others and ourselves is a progressive process. If we don’t forgive, we can’t move on to live the life of freedom we deserve.

When you make a mistake — learn from it. When you hurt someone — apologize and make amends.

Forgiveness is not forced. So, if they don’t forgive you immediately (which is not within your control) — be patient and give it time.

In all, forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation or restoration of relationships. And it doesn’t negate punishment in extreme cases. Forgiveness means healing in order to move on.

Becoming a Hero Demands Availability

Being a hero is not in big acts done in public but also in little things done in secret without the want of reward.

Being a hero is in showing up to help, in a call, in a donation, in offering up your home as a shelter.

Being a hero is in emptying your pantry to feed others, it’s in giving your last buck to another, it’s in standing up for another. It is in using your skills to help others.

Being a hero is in the little big things so often ignored. Things we do in spite of our past or how we feel.

Connor says he doesn’t want to be anyone’s hero, yet in a heartbeat, he shows up for his friends and does whatever it takes to help his clients. These he does in spite of himself.

Every hero carries a burden. They have a past they struggle with, a present they can’t escape and a future they are uncertain of.

Your ability to forgive enables you to let go of your burden and take on that of others. And anytime you take on the burden of others without expecting a reward, it makes you a hero.

Conclusion

We have all done things we are not proud of. Things that make us feel undeserving to be called a hero on any level. But we are human and prone to errors.

We evolve by making mistakes and learning from them.

There is neither a perfect human nor a perfect hero. Mistakes or not, everyone deserves to be someone’s hero. And every hero deserves to be appreciated for the good they’ve done.

Who is your hero?

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Thanks to Dan Moore

Grace Ekoh

Written by

I write about Self development, Productivity, Healing, and Women.

Mind Cafe

Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

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