What is a hero? Do you really know?
Is it someone strong and vibrant who goes off and slays your enemies and upholds your friends? Or is it a football quarterback who wins the Super Bows in the last second with his “hail Mary” throw?
Christoper McDougall doesn’t think it is any of these.
“And what Plutarch taught them is this: Heroes care. True heroism, as the ancients understood, isn’t about strength, or boldness, or even courage. It’s about compassion.
When the Greeks created the heroic ideal, they didn’t choose a word that means ‘Dies Trying’ or ‘Massacres Bad Guys.’ They went with hērōs—‘protector.’ Heroes aren’t perfect; with a god as one parent and a mortal as the other, they’re perpetually teetering between two destinies. What tips them toward greatness is a sidekick, a human connection who helps turn the spigot on the power of compassion. Empathy, the Greeks believed, was a source of strength, not softness; the more you recognized yourself in others and connected with their distress, the more endurance, wisdom, cunning, and determination you could tap into.”
– Christopher McDougall from Natural Born Heroes: Mastering the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance
This falls in line with what Martha Beck wrote:
Compassion, friends, is the most revolutionary power on earth — not simpering and weak, but magical, powerful, the very force of Creation. Our darkest corners are being shoved into our attention, our deepest fears made manifest. That gives us the opportunity to clear them, deeply and permanently.
~ Martha Beck from Inside the Darkness, Shiny Objects Blog
If you want to become a hero, practice compassion. If your practice is compassion, you are a hero. Here’s a list of my heroes and heroines:
- Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
- The Dalai Lama
- Pema Chodron
- Anna Halprin
- Gabrielle Roth
- Father Eli
- Swami Rama
- Swami Veda Bharati
- Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
- Dr. Lissa Rankin
- Dr. Sara Huang
- Helen Palmer
- Bonita Clemens
- Micah Freedman
Write to me if you would like to know more about any of these heroes and heroines.
Who are your heroes and heroines?