This week, the Philippines celebrated National Heroes Day – many celebrating the country’s men and women who had sacrificed for their compatriots, for the common good, and for the motherland.
Others remembered the lives of those within their family circles, their communities, and people they idolize and look up to as they hack out a living – personal and professional.
But the question rears its head: What makes a hero? That decision to forego one’s own safety and comfort to act towards a higher cause so that others might live in a better way and reach a better tomorrow.
Keen observers say, heroes, role models, and leaders have the potential to serve both enhancing and moral modeling functions and may provide a protecting function beyond that of role models or leaders.
Overall, heroes are more likely to help, save, protect, make the world better, and do what no one else will than leaders or role models
Experts point to researchers who have found that in several ways, heroes are not all that different from most people although there are a number of skills they did build that can boost their hero characteristics.
Instance, they can start building empathy, becoming competent and skilled, and being persistent in the face of obstacles are all abilities a person wanting to be a hero can work on over time.
By doing so, the person can improve his/her ability to help others and come through in times of need.
Closer to home, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said Philippine history is not lacking in stories of heroes who fought bravely for our country.
From the Spanish era until today, we have Filipinos who resisted oppression, fought for freedom, and, in many cases, died for their cause.
His observation: “Ironically, in today’s Information Age, it appears younger generations do not know much about our national heroes, let alone the stories of our modern-day heroes.
“We have relatively few media materials about our national heroes, aside from the occasional film dramatization or short TV series. If the reverse were true, then our people – specifically the youth – would know much more about them and their actions and it would be more likely that they would have instilled in them a greater sense of patriotism and love for our country.”
Researchers have offered different definitions of exactly what makes a hero, but most suggest that heroism involves prosocial, altruistic actions that involve an element of personal risk or sacrifice.
But some researchers suggest that heroism involves more than just this. In their definition, heroism is characterized by:
*Acting voluntarily for the service of others who are in need, whether it is for an individual, a group, or a community
*Performing actions without any expectation of reward or external gain
*Recognition and acceptance of the potential risk or sacrifice made by taking heroic actions
Researchers also do not necessarily agree about the central characteristics that make up heroism. One study published in 2015 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggested that heroes have 12 central traits:
The psychology of heroism might not be well understood, but many experts do believe that it is possible for people to learn to be heroes.