I was reading a news story the other day where the writer referred to a person that he had encountered as a "hero". I shook my head in disbelief because he was writing about what seemed to me an ordinary person doing an ordinary thing. It made me think back to a show that I watched from time to time with my daughter when she was much younger. It was an animated series called Higglytown Heroes that took place in an ordinary community. In each episode a group of kids encountered someone in the town, be it a librarian, a baker, a shop owner, and they learned what the person did. At the end of the show, the kids always declared that the person they had just met was a hero. Even now the words of the villain Syndrome from The Incredibles runs through my head, "When everyone's super, no one will be."
Let me make it clear what the notion of a hero is in my mind. My dictionary defines a hero as someone who is distinguished by exceptional courage, nobility, or fortitude. To this I would add that I term a hero as someone who puts themselves at great risk in the service of others when then do not have to. In a moment of crisis, a hero is someone who steps up and puts others before themselves. Thus the casual use of the word hero, handed out to every Tom, Dick, and Harry, when one ought to say something else quite different, such as "that person is a decent, hard-working individual", seems to be doing an utter dis-service to those who truly go above and beyond.