Everyday Heroes

by Belinda Munoz on October 11, 2010

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We love our superheroes. If the blockbuster ratings in movie theaters were any indication, it would not be too strong a word to say that we’re fanatics for displays of supernatural abilities of good overcoming evil.

As a child, I recall seeing my first Superman film and marveling at how he would prevent disasters of cataclysmic proportions. Geeky Clark Kent had an inimitable way of transforming into hubba hubba heartthrob and showing up at a scene just before total destruction ensued. No challenge was insurmountable, that is, unless he was falling to his knees at the sight of a piece of glowing green rock called Kryptonite.

Being the audiences eager for entertainment that we are, we suspend our sense of reality and willingly give in to this world of pure fantasy. We don’t get too hung up on how uncomfortable those skintight Lycra costumes would be to have on while battling bad boys from outer space. We don’t get overly critical about the lack of science that supports any preposterous premise because, well, that’s simply not the point of watching a superhero film. The point, often, is to achieve that feeling of redemption. That triumphant feeling of seeing a humble farm boy use his otherworldly gifts and blossom into a hero. That and the feeling of catharsis from watching incredibly awesome fight scenes.

In real life, my guess would be that many of us would retreat from any actual fight scenes that unfold before our eyes. In real life, there is no evil from outer space. There is no six-pack sporting, tights-wearing, building-leaping hero to save the world from destruction. And any elements that make us fall to our knees are most likely substances of our own design rather than from another planet.

There are, however, folks who do good in their own quiet and decidedly un-showy way. They are the everyday heroes in our midst that don’t cause a scene, don’t make the front page of The New York Times or the eleven o’clock news, and most definitely don’t wear capes while doing their thing.

We really don’t have to look so hard to find these everyday heroes. They’re everywhere. They could be our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends, our barista, ourselves. The real challenges are: whether or not we recognize them when they’re staring us in the face, whether or not we can appreciate the incremental changes that they contribute to the greater good, and whether or not we can accept that big changes — the ones we long for, lose sleep over and dream about — require our active participation and take place at human, not superhuman, speed.

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Do you have any favorite superheroes?  Any favorite everyday hero?
Who tends to inspire you more: superheroes or everyday heroes?
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Image by Bohman

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ayala October 11, 2010 at 3:36 am

Belinda,
How true! There are everyday heroes everywhere. They are the real inspiration. They are on the news or living next door to us. They act with courage when it’s needed. They don’t look for recognition, they simply do what needs to be done. My father was one of my heroes. He fought for other people’s rights. He helped anyone in need. He was kind to strangers. I recognize that in others as well. They don’t question why they should help,they just do it because that’s who they are!

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2 Belinda Munoz October 12, 2010 at 12:08 am

Ayala, how touching to hear about your father. The memory of folks like him tend to live in our hearts for a long time. Thanks for sharing.

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3 TheKitchenWitch October 11, 2010 at 6:46 am

All kinds of heroes are wonderful, but I think my favorites are the ones who quietly do what’s right and don’t require any fanfare.

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4 Belinda Munoz October 12, 2010 at 12:04 am

It really is awe-inspiring to watch a teacher teach her/his class with love and understanding or a mother raise her children with patience that even she doesn’t know where it’s flowing from.

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5 rob white October 11, 2010 at 6:55 am

Hi Belinda,
I sure have plenty of everyday heroes… I revere anyone who is living to their highest creative potential. Be it poets, painters or bricklayers… they heroes to me if they are sincerely seeking to express their authentic selves fully.

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6 Belinda Munoz October 11, 2010 at 11:58 pm

I hear you, Rob. It can be easy to stuff this authentic self in the backseat and being able to let it be takes some cultivating. A heroic feat of the everyday sort.

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7 Aging Mommy October 11, 2010 at 8:24 am

There are people in this world who quietly do good, little gestures of human kindness for others, no fanfare. They are real heroes I think.

Then there are people who live through the most horrific of incidents and yet manage to put the past behind them and live happy fulfilled lives. My parents went to lunch with a couple they befriended. The husband is 87 and survived the D-Day landings in France. He never talks about it. As my father said, it is a real privilege to know such a man, an everyday hero.

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8 Belinda Munoz October 11, 2010 at 11:53 pm

A humble and reluctant hero. A great example for us all.

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9 Lance October 11, 2010 at 10:30 am

Belinda,
This really is such a touching article – and it is, for me, because it touches upon the average ordinary person out there – doing something to make our world better. And these are the people that can truly touch us in special ways…as it can be very personal, very real, very loving. And that’s such a beautiful place to “be”…

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10 Belinda Munoz October 11, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Lance, you captured it so well by using the words personal, loving and real. These are qualities that humans are very capable of and in my humble opinion, they give us plenty of room to do incredibly amazing things!

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11 Justine October 11, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Caveat: You may throw up with my comment.

The superhero I look up to in my life right now is My Guy – he busts his behind at work and does everything he can to come home to our little girl every evening, even if sometimes he manages just ten minutes with her. And he would put aside anything if he knew I needed him by my side, whether it’s just to talk or a good snuggle.

Maybe it’s because my dad was the antithesis of a superhero dad and husband that I feel grateful everyday that I have one who isn’t like him.

But you’re right – superheroes aren’t always the people with the cape and underwear on the outside. Sometime we tend to forget that amid the Hollywood stories.

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12 Belinda Munoz October 11, 2010 at 11:44 pm

Justine, no throwing up here at all. I get this as i am just as lucky with the hubs. Your Guy sounds just like the perfect match for you — every bit the hero you should have by your side. Lucky Little Miss for having you both!

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13 Katie October 11, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Belinda, I hope you realize you are one of those everyday heroes, spreading insight, hope, thoughtfulness and caring with your words. This blog is your cape. You go girl. Thank you for all you do.

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14 Belinda Munoz October 11, 2010 at 11:39 pm

Katie, you are impossible not to love. I have never thought of this blog as my cape, and now, I’ll never get that metaphor out of my head. Thank you for all that you do.

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15 Sandra Lee October 11, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Belinda, This is a terrific reminder to wake up and see all the wondrous people around us. One of the great aspects of the blogosphere has been the chance to connect with so many everyday changemakers – like you. These are my everyday heroes. This is my favorite line in the post:

“…that big changes — the ones we long for, lose sleep over and dream about — require our active participation and take place at human, not superhuman, speed.”

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16 Belinda Munoz October 11, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Thank you, Sandra. Cheers to everyday change makers within and outside of the blogoshpere!

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17 BigLittleWolf October 11, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Everyday heroes.

All splashy heroics aside, I couldn’t agree more. At the slow pace that is human, at our imperfect ways of doing good, and our insistence nonetheless on trying.

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18 Belinda Munoz October 11, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Well said, BLW. Here’s to celebrating all things human, imperfect and embracing the greatness that lies within.

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19 Colleen October 12, 2010 at 4:23 am

I have met many of these heroes and they usually don’t even know their own worth and that is what is most beautiful about them.

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20 Steven October 12, 2010 at 7:56 am

Hey Belinda, this is a good insight. It is true that we all have our heroes who we look up to, not just in films but also real life. Maybe it has something to do with our desire to be more than what we are? Or, to push ourselves to the next level of “superpower” ability. We all have that Ayn Rand-sense of rugged individualism, and being the heroes of our own lives.

Nice piece and I look forward to reading more from you soon!

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21 Sara Healy October 12, 2010 at 8:40 am

Belinda — Definitely, the everyday heroes inspire me more!!! My heroes tend to people who don’t run into burning building to save lives, but those that do the every day kind acts that makes a person smile when they want to cry, calms an angry group with a gentle joke that makes everyone laugh or takes a meal to the neighbor who has seemed stressed lately. I guess what I’m saying are my heroes are the people who see and feel the ordinary life struggles of people and then seek to help ease them.

Regarding superheroes, I never really had one, but I did think Lee Majors of the Six Million Dollar Man was quite the “hunk” :~)

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22 SuziCate October 12, 2010 at 9:06 am

I’m not inspired by superheros or celebrity status but am inspired by everyday heros and celebrities that do good from their hearts not for attention. The most inspiring heros to me are a little aged couple who do good all the time as a way of life. they raised eight children of their own and a few foster children. They spend their time advocating for others and dip into their own frugal account to help those in need. I don’t think I know anyone else wuite like this elderly couple. They’ve lived their entire lives selflessly helping others. They are well deserving of much admiration.

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23 Claudia October 12, 2010 at 9:27 am

i go for the everyday heros – sometimes so unimposing that you tend to ignore them – until they stand up and fight brave for someone else’s rights or help someone they wouldn’t have to help
i liked your thought provoking post belinda!

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24 Christine October 12, 2010 at 9:45 am

I’m searching for some in my life. I’ve found a few online, in quite suprising ways. Each has made a difference to me. That’s what ,in my opinion, makes a hero. A person who makes a difference for another. We’re trying to raise our boys not to idolize fictional heroes, but it’s an imperfect balance to be had. There are some decent to be learned from fictional heroes. As there are from real heroes.

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25 The Exception October 12, 2010 at 10:53 am

I wrote on heroes a while back inspired by Jay who wrote on the same subject. The topic always reminds me of a TV show when I was little “Greatest American Hero.” Just a normal guy; the average person – and a hero. I know heroes with great abs and killer smiles as I know heroes that are working through living fully a life with ALS. I know a 10 year old hero who reminds me of laughter and butterfly strength and grace and my dad, my hero, who has learned to come to terms with cancer (that it isn’t personal) and is living… And I am my own hero (and I have posted on my sexy hero outfits too! 😉 )
I have come to learn that a hero is someone who recognizes the roundness of their peg and the beauty of their journey… and stays true to it while also recognizing the shape and beauty of those around them.

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26 ayo October 12, 2010 at 12:57 pm

hello belinda
how are you?
i absolutely love spiderman (till date) infact i used to draw cartoon/comic characters and wish i had super powers sadly the fairy didnt grant it.
anyway, there are a few people that serve as rolemodels, heroes or mentors in my life but in my current phase, it would have to be my dad.
at times we didnt get on but he was the best, he spent time with us and touched the hearts of people. he would go without in order for us to have what was neccessary and it’s something i’ve adopted. I remember tales from my mum of him him studying at university and working 2 jobs lol!!
he was a real gentleman despite our fall outs but that’s expected in any relationship. sadly he is no more but his memory, actions, warmth, love, behaviour, ethics lingers on.
take care and do have a lovely day.

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27 Patty - Why Not Start Now? October 12, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Hi Belinda – Oh yes, there are so many everyday heroes, all around us. I tend to think of my clients that way, in fact. People who take the courageous step of letting down their guard and looking within, yeah, that gets me every time. Even though it may seem like a stretch, I also think it makes the world a better place when we do that, because so often the experience leads not just to more self-understanding but to increased empathy for and understanding of all people. And although I’ve never been a big superhero fan, I must admit a strange fascination with the X-Men movies, perhaps because Patrick Stewart was the lead hero, all intellectual and brilliant rather than buff!

p.s. Love this line: “There is no six-pack sporting, tights-wearing, building-leaping hero to save the world from destruction.”

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28 Rudri October 15, 2010 at 8:08 am

This post allowed me to reflect on everyday heroes in my life. I have to say my father’s oncologist is an everyday hero for me. He tried and succeeded in giving my father hope and through his medical knowledge my father lived more years than anticipated. He did it with grace and without expectation. Grace in my eyes defines an everyday hero.

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