The Matter-of-Fact Hero

Recently, I was walking from my kitchen to my office and passed by my TV, which was tuned to Fox News.  The anchors were promoting an upcoming story that I didn’t stick around long enough to watch, but one which I want to comment on nonetheless.  They showed three pictures from a bank security video camera where a guy (who wasn’t wearing a mask, and who may or may not have been carrying a weapon) was robbing the bank.   Behind him was an older, larger man who had a very relaxed expression on his face – almost as though he wasn’t aware that anything was happening.

The next frame showed the robber turning to leave.  The third frame showed the large man “bear-hugging” this robber from behind – while still maintaining a totally relaxed expression on his face!

The caption underneath proclaimed the bear-hugging guy to be a hero.

Yes, he was.  He caught the bad guy.  But what struck me is that he waited calmly and then just acted – behavior which is very typical of hero-types.  They do what they do without agonizing over it, without mulling over their fears and potential losses.  They simply do the right thing.

Jews for all times call the Christians and their families who risked torture and death in order to rescue Jews during World War II “righteous Gentiles,” and hold them in supreme respect.  I have watched documentaries where righteous Gentiles explain why they did what they did when it was a potential death sentence.  To the one, they all said the same thing:”IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.”  It’s how they were brought up.

Heroes are so “matter of fact” about their extraordinary actions that they don’t even categorize what they have done as “heroic” and it’s not false modesty.  It’s just that it was, for them, simply the right thing to do.