Friday, January 16, 2009

All this hero nonsense

For over a year, pretty much all I ate was oatmeal, rice and beet salad. Don't ask, I was going through a phase. As it turns out, I can no longer stand even the thought of oatmeal. Why, you might ask? Because something repeated over and over and over again will eventually start to lose meaning. I ate so much oatmeal that were I to eat it now, I would taste nothing.

This phenomenon translates into other areas of life. For example, as a camp counselor I would never raise my voice over "little things" such as bickering or whining. I wanted to save my loudness for moments of imminent danger, such as when a few of my campers thought it would be neat-o to jump from the rafters onto their beds. I did not concur, proceeded to raise my voice, and they listened because they knew I was serious.

I bring this all up now in light of Captain CB Sullenberger being called a hero for his daring and miraculous landing on the Hudson yesterday. In todays world, the word "hero" gets thrown around way too loosely and has lost meaning do to its promiscuity. Mr. Sullenberger is not in fact a hero, but rather a really good pilot.A professional athlete, for example, is not a hero, unless he or she does something heroic - playing a sport really well does not count. Death also does not a hero make, Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Another thing - doing your job does not make you a hero. Police officers, firefighters, and the like have all chosen valiant professions requiring courage and a commitment to the greater good and safety of their community. But when they do their job, they did a job well done. I do my job at work pretty darn well and nobody's calling me a friggin' hero when I write a glorious memo or draft a brilliant bill.

Mr. Sullenberger's job is to fly airplanes and land them - and that's what he did. In actuality, flight itself is such a daunting task that literally every pilot of every successful flight ought then to be considered heroic. But that would be asinine. So, Mr. Sullenberger, commendations on a job well done. You are a damn fine pilot. Not a hero, but a damn fine pilot nonetheless.

So, World, I beg that we start choosing our words carefully and stop being hero whores. That way, when somebody does deserves to be called a hero, I don't roll my eyes at them.

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