What is so special about a hero? Why do we like them? Why would we want to emulate them?

If you have read the Lord of the Rings, a character instantly comes to mind when you think of a hero. His name was Aragorn, son of Arathorn. He is the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor yet he is content to remain a simple ranger, spending time with the elves.

In Return of the King, Aragorn, is faced with a choice–take up the reforged sword of his ancestor, Isildur. With it, he can command the loyalty of a ghost army who can help him snatch victory from the jaws of certain defeat. The catch? He has to accept that he is the King of Gondor and no longer run from his destiny. At last he does and with the cursed army, he is able to defeat Sauron’s Army and save Gondor. Only by putting aside his dream of a simpler life, could the peoples of many kingdoms be saved.

Ever heard of a guy called Peter Parker? (Hint: He’s Spiderman)  Unlike many tales of heroes, his tale of tragedy comes at the beginning of his journey and affects his life forever. Arrogant with his new powers, he lets a thief go who ends up killing his uncle. With great power comes great responsibility was never more poignantly told as it was in that origin comic. It shaped a boy named Peter Parker into the superhero Spiderman who vowed to always do the right thing because you never knew what the consequences were. His list of enemies grew, people died and he was always blamed for everything by some of the very people he was trying to save. Still, he didn’t give up.

What do these guys have in common?

They never give up and when it counts, they choose what’s right.

That’s what really defines a hero. Anyone can do the right thing, but it is so easy to let something bad happen.

Stay silent. Don’t get involved. It’s not your problem. Someone else will take care of it.

These are all the little voices in our head that tell us that we don’t matter. Well, we do. Not only do we matter, but every single action matters too. Whether it is opening a door for someone, letting someone else take the good parking spot on the front row or saving the world from a diabolical monster, it all matters.

Does a hero always do what’s right? No.

Does that matter? No.

We are human and we make mistakes. No one is blameless and noble to a fault. What defines us as heroes is that we choose to own up to our mistakes. Make the world better even if it just means being a little nicer to one person than you were the day before.

The world is saved one decision at a time.

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