What is a hero? What kind of acts are heroic?
In 1997 Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm, argued that heroism is more than courage. Comparing the commercial fishermen aboard The Andrea Gail to adventurers who lost their lives on Mt. Everest, Junger admitted that climbing the formidable peak did indeed show great courage. But, he said, such an act should not be called heroic.
“Heroism,” said Junger, “is courage in the service of others.”
I like the distinction because it gives heroes a moral dimension. It’s Evel Knievel versus Mother Theresa. Both showed great courage. One showed great love.
Tomorrow: More about heroes and why we need them