Horace Smith said, “Courage is the fear of being thought a coward.”
William Rotsler said, “A hero is one who thinks slower than a coward.”
Some heroes act because they cannot stand the guilt of not acting.
Others are driven by acclaim (when recognition is guaranteed).
What constitutes being a hero?
Is a downed pilot who evades capture a hero, or simply trying to survive?
Is an adult jumping into a pool to save a toddler a hero, or simply acting on impulse? And, what risk is there?
In some situations it may be wiser not to be a hero.
Years ago in Dallas a customer threw an ashtray at a bank robber, and was shot to death. Although hailed a hero, he had a family and endangered other customers. Who knows how others might have benefited had he lived.
Whatever the motivation, some acts are truly courageous: jumping into a flooding river to save a car’s occupants; standing in front of tanks to protest dictators; defending an innocent person from bullies…
Whether altruistic or not, humans seem born with the impulse to help others. The underlying motivation does not diminish their actions — but is simply food for thought.
In my book, anyone who overcomes fear and genuine danger to help others is a hero.