There is never a question in our minds as to who our personal heroes are – we can name them without having to think about it. When the world goes haywire, no matter how large that disaster may be, we also know who to list as heroes. Those lists are second nature to us, and it takes nothing for us to tip our hates or extend our hearts to those people.
Because those people are selfless. They do their jobs without a second thought, without hesitation, without complaint. They embody the definition of the word, “hero.” Most importantly, they never once ask us to call them heroes, because they don’t think of themselves as being worthy of the title. They’re doing what they’ve wanted to do, what they’ve dreamed of doing, and they expect nothing in return. We embrace them for that goodness of spirit, and it makes it easy for us to idolize them, to wish thanks and bestow praise upon them. After all, how can you not embrace such an ideal? They are the living personification of our fictional ideals.
But that love and adoration breeds a second group.
This second group does everything in its power to make sure you KNOW what they’re doing…constantly…every moment of every day. They complain about everything they have to do. They WHINE about their tasks. They make martyrs of themselves and expect the same adulation and praise. They want the same title of “hero,” the same praise and cheering. They actually believe they’re ENTITLED to it, and they throw it in your face with every breath and stand there, expecting you to turn around and shower them with your worship.
They have completely and utterly failed at every definition of a hero.
They are pretenders to a crown they are unworthy to touch.
We all know some of these people, and we’ve all been subjected to their rallying cries for a personal parade they don’t deserve. They put on airs, expecting us to fall at their feet in wonder. They enact dramatic retellings of their exploits, expecting us to hang on their every word. They bitch about every inconvenience, expecting an outpouring of sympathy.
Meanwhile, the genuine heroes are going about their day without a single complaint, without a need to say a single word, without asking a single person to hear of their pain. They smile through pain, they work through tears, and they wake every day to repeat the process over again. They work in conditions that are sub-optimal and struggle through to the best of their abilities – they don’t sit back and whine. They might beg and plead for help, but they don’t stand by and laugh or gossip about how lucky they are that they don’t have to have clients in the lobby anymore.
What’s the difference?
True heroes don’t have to be labeled as such – they are defined by their actions. Just as fake martyrs are defined by theirs.
And the world can tell the difference between the two.