Heroes have come under fire lately. The media shows us the worst aspects of humanity every day, and so seldom do we see a hero that isn’t plastered up on a movie screen and serving as so much escapist pablum. Politicians throw around the word hero like it has lost all meaning, and they engage in bloody debate over whether an individual is a hero or a monster. In this era of near zero privacy, we see so many heroic offerings that are served up quickly only take a schadenfreude laden fall from succumbing to the fringe benefits that public attention so often brings.
But we still want there to be heroes. With how bad our economy is, how terrifying evil has become in its many forms around the world, so many of us are crying out for a hero. And wouldn’t that be nice, to have someone fly in with a billowing cape and winning grin?
Throughout all of this, we’ve mixed up what it means to be a hero and, I think, forgotten that a hero can come from anywhere. You can be someone’s hero if you’re a shoulder to cry on when they need it, by giving money to someone in need, by taking the mere moment out of your day to treat someone else with decency. Something so simple as picking up the phone for a friend can be an unknown heroic act; if the call is a last ditch attempt to reach someone, anyone.
We often do not give enough credit to the men and women who are every day heroes - the ones who spend their lives fighting their instincts of self-preservation. This may be the truest measure of heroism the way we commonly talk about it, the willingness to risk and sacrifice for the good of others. Certainly, it is one of the hardest questions we have to grapple with. Most of us will assert, when ensconced in the quotidian safety of our day-to-day, that we would gladly put our lives on the line for some greater good. This is so much more difficult to do when we find ourselves in the position.
Despite all this melancholy about the state of the world and the complaints that maybe all the heroes are gone, there’s still hope. We still see some of us willing to put aside our petty squabbles and fear. Maybe that’s all it takes, those few bright sparks that put themselves on the line to stand against violence, prejudice, and hatred. Even with flaws, and flawed heroes truly are the most compelling, there are those who will light their souls on fire and hold back all the darkness in the world.
So, now we invite you to take a gander through this collection. Within these pages are different takes on heroes and heroism. There are big damn heroes and every day heroes. There are sword-wielding women and gun-toting men, there are people scraping to get by and members of royalty, there are those looking for a job and there is even a young man wearing his underpants over his bluejeans. Every one of them is a hero, and I hope this inspires you to your own acts of heroism, big or small.
- Tyler Omichinski, September 24, 2015