Heroes and Heroics

The Independent published a piece on the difference between heroics and foolhardiness:


prompting this:


A fascinating, and mostly accurate piece on heroes in today’s Viewspaper. The one exception being Captain Sullenberger, who landed his plane on the Hudson. While the good captain made a very noteworthy contribution to the exercise, all of the decisions that kept the plane in the air, and which made the landing so smooth were made by the plane’s onboard systems. Had he been flying a Boeing, he would have crashed a lot earlier, over land. The heroics in that situation have to be at least shared with the Airbus software people.

In terms of the definition of “hero”, it really is quite simple. Are you setting out, knowing you may come into harm’s way or worse, for the benefit of others? That’s heroic. If you’re setting out to do your normal job and get stuck doing it, then that’s not. If you set out on some childish adventure surrounded by cameras and admiring sycophants, then that’s not. If you join an army because it’s a better option than unemployment, then it’s not.

Heroes are made in moments of time and changing circumstances, not by cynical design and a desire for self-promotion.

Paul Harper