Heroes of Everyday Life

When we think of heroes, we may think of the classical kind such as Achilles, Ulysses, and Aeneas. But these Heroes (with a capital H) mean nothing unless they bear some relationship to you and me.

We may not be slaying dragons or even winning the football or baseball game for our team, but we do bear some connection to the archetype of the hero. When we get up in the morning to face another day of work, of loving our family and our friends, confronting the danger of driving on the freeway, seeking to be honest and kind in our dealings with others, we participate in the heroic. And if this doesn’t seem heroic, remember that even those we would call Heroes often say they were just doing what needed to be done. Like us, they often don’t see themselves as doing anything special.

The dust jacket on my copy of Joseph Campbell’s Hero of a Thousand Faces tells the story. On the cover is a bronze statue of some Greco-Roman Hero of the sort we normally think of in connection with the word. If you look more closely, however, you will see that the picture is composed of tiny photos of modern, everyday people. People like you and I.

My father, for example, is one of my heroes. He went to work each day, faced a difficult commute and a difficult job, lived through a tough marriage, and held on through it all as best he could. No one nominated him for a Nobel or a Congressional Medal of Honor, but he was a hero nonetheless. And without such heroes, society and culture fall apart, and the Heroes of the other sort are not possible.

Please find the hero in yourself. Live daily life fully and do your best. Love those around you to the best of your ability, and continually expand that ability. Face what difficulties with some courage. Act as though it matters. It does. And honor all the heroes around you.

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