In considering Kim’s thoughts about heroes, I like her idea about making heroes out of people you know. I think every parent hopes his child thinks him a hero, and for at least some part of their youth, I contend most children tend to view one or both parents as their heroes. If not parents, then perhaps close family or friends. But I think we need to define “hero” to take this any further. To me, a hero is someone that you not only respect, but that you wish to emulate or grow up to be like. But I don’t think it’s necessary to want to emulate every aspect of that person for them to be a hero to you. You could emulate the bravery of a NYC firefighter and that might make him a hero. For all you know, he goes home and kicks his dog. Would it diminish his hero status if his dog kicking became public? Undoubtedly. But blind to his animal abuses, you simply focus on the known traits and the ones you want to emulate. In this case, what you don’t know, can’t really hurt you. The hero is simply an embodiment of an ideal. Truth is not really the point. Striving for personal betterment is. Therefore, I contend that heroes don’t need to exist as all-or-nothing ideals. There is an element or a vector of behavior you strive for. The rest is blissfully invisible.
Another point about restricting yourself to heroes you know is that for many people that can be overly limiting. Like most parents, I want my kids to grow beyond me someday. I want them to be more than I am, and more than I’m capable of. If I am their only hero, then that limits what they aspire to be. I don’t want them to be just like me, or just like anybody else. I want them to draw on the best of breed behaviors they see from a variety of people. People they know, people they read about, or even fictional characters can all be valuable role models, and to my mind, that makes them heroes.