Sunday, February 3, 2013

Heroes and Courage

I love writing and prefer fiction.
So if I think of heroes, I don't immediately think of real life, but of fictional heroes. One of my favorite on-line writing haunts is currently Writers Write. Not too long ago they posted a list of Six Type of Courageous Characters. When I wrote about leaders I began to think of heroes.
Writers Write says there are six types of bravery that create fictional heroes: heroic, steadfast, quiet, personal, devil-may-care and frightened. In my life I have met many of each of these kinds of brave people, and they are all heroes.
The heroic ones are usually easy to spot. I know soldiers who labored to save others, at great risk to themselves. My Dad and brothers fall into this category, as do all the service men and women I have encountered in life. This includes police and firefighters, but doesn't end there. Thank you all.
The steadfast ones are trickier. I know a few people who are missionaries in far away countries who could be arrested and killed at any time. They believe what they are doing is worth the risk. Every missionary takes that risk, even though we don't read about their deaths in the news. Reverend Muhoza Lewi is also such a man. Born in the Congo, now living in Rwanda, he struggles daily to provide for his family and the people in his churches.
In the last year I have encountered dozens of people with quiet bravery, and become aware of dozens more already in my life. Fighting cancer is hard, fighting crippling illness is hard - and enduring this life sometimes is hard enough.
I've known some people who, at least at some point in their lives, exhibited personal bravery. A friend of mine made some tough choices as a young man to turn his life from a drug dealer to a man who helped others in trouble. He's just one example.
I don't currently know of any people who exhibit devil-may-care bravery, but I immediately think of River Song in Doctor Who. I might tend to shy away from these people in a real-life situation. I might not. It depends on the situation and how devil-may-care, I guess. My sweet cousin moved from Michigan to Texas in 1981 in a devil-may-care act, and that sure makes her a hero in my book.
Yet everyone I know shows signs of frightened bravery in their lives. How can they not? In the face of the hardships in life, they still arise each morning, do what they must and remain strong. Sometimes the degree of bravery required is harder than at others. Our friends lost a college-aged daughter a few weeks ago. They exhibit frightened, quiet bravery every day now. A man whose work I admire just lost his wife to cancer. My father struggles in a losing fight to cancer and he struggles to take one more breath. The list goes on.
Leaders are often heroes. It takes bravery to be a leader, to speak up when you fear rejection, criticism or attack. Sometimes you fail, and it takes bravery to simply continue. That's heroic.
My Dad was a leader to each of us boys. So was my Mom. My brothers are amazing leaders in their own families and in their extended circles of influence.
There are heroes all around us in daily life, people of great courage, sometimes simply the courage of their convictions in the face of animosity. Not all of them are leaders. Leadership takes a different kind of courage. In fiction the leaders are usually heroically courageous and then exhibit many of the other forms of bravery throughout the novel.
In real life it is the same, but much more subtle. The courage is all around us; the heroes are not as common. 

Choose your heroes wisely. Emulate them. Become a hero.

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