Recently, while talking about “heroes,” MSNBC commentator Chris Hayes said that he was “uncomfortable with the word because it seemed like a rhetorical device that could justify engaging in more wars.”
It seemed that Hayes was trying to come across as a thoughtful, objective intellectual. Unfortunately his trivializing, big-worded turn of phrase does not make him that. On the other hand, it does show that Hayes simply does not understand what it is to be a hero in this sense.
Most people who have served – either in the military or law enforcement – will tell you that getting shot, or blown up, or listening to a close friend die screaming doesn’t make one a hero. It’s a matter of luck; it’s either your time or theirs, or it’s not.
The heroic act comes way before the violence. These people become heroes when they quietly decide to serve, not knowing if it will be they who run out of luck and are killed or wounded. These people become heroes when they knowingly decide to put their life in harm’s way so that most of the rest of us don’t have to – even uncomfortable, effete poseurs like MSNBC commentator Chris Hayes.