There have been two school shootings in America in the last few months. During the Florida shooting, a student who is now being hailed as one of the heroes of that fateful day, JROTC Peter Wang, helped other students escape and died doing so. Anthony Borges, 15, used his body to shield his classmates from the shooters bullets, and was shot five times in the back and legs in the process. He is still recuperating from surgeries.
These two scenarios are striking for me because they happened recently and the people involved are young people. What makes people go out of their way in this manner? What stimulates empathy that moves one to act in this manner?
I am deeply introspective. When things happen, I find myself thinking 'extra' about the whys. I admired deeply the fine sense of heroism of these young people. I kept asking if I could do that, if I could put the possibility of a future on this earth to ensure two, three, four other people got that chance.
Can you? Can you do this? Is it a special gift, a way people are raised, values imparted, examples shown ?
Do you only have to save lives or avert disasters to bear the tag of a hero?
Yesterday, at Lekki 3rd roundabout, I saw a taxi driver wrestling to extinguish a fire that threatened to engulf his cab. Everyone swerved to the right and left of him and sped along. I thought of my fire extinguisher in my boot and attempted to stop and hand it to him, until I saw some fellow cab drivers hurrying up to hand him theirs and put out the fire. Why did these people stop? Why did others drive along?
Heroism nudgdings comes in bursts too, I guess. There are moments when I am filled with great indignation driving along the express and have physically confronted one questionable official who was chasing a young hawker down a busy expressway. There are other moments when I put up my glass window, blast my music; unseeing, unhearing to injustices around me.
Can I be a true, consistent, hero? Can you be?
Literature suggests that people carry out acts, big and small, of heroism daily. Certain characteristics including compassion, empathy, a strong sense of responsibility, justice and integrity are common in the making of heroes.
The nature vs nurture question beckons too. Are heroes born or made?
Projects like the Heroic Imagination Project have made a fine art of training people to be everyday heroes. This San Francisco not- for-profit develops and implements research, education and corporate and public initiatives to inspire and encourage everyday heroism. One interesting mantra they have is that the opposite of a hero is not an evil person, but a bystander.
This is very similar to the saying we know that; the opposite of love is indifference. Not necessarily, hate!
I would talk more about this in coming posts, as I'm so fascinated about this issue. But for starters, I want to know what heroic acts you have performed in the past and also the things that keep you from being heroic. Is there a Nigerian factor somewhere? Is gender standing in the way? Social standing ?
Talk to me.