Where Have All the Heroes Gone?

Definition of “Hero” from Google

Notice what stands out in the definition. The hero is somewhat like a god, a great warrior, or a venerated idol.

Do you see why it is so difficult to envision yourself as a hero? How could any human being living a completely normal life live up to such definition?

To be sure, there have been individuals who believed from their earliest years that they were destined for greatness. According to a legend, in his late 20’s Julius Caesar lamented the fact that Alexander the Great had conquered the word by his mid-twenties, and wondered about when his turn to prove himself in a similar arena would finally come. But an average twenty-something today harboring such dreams from the confines of a desk job would be dismissed as delusional at least. That’s sad.

But why can’t we?

The “great human” definition of heroism has led the vast majority of us to underestimate the importance of our own lives. It has given all of us a deflated sense of our own potential. Unable to envision ourselves as central to any important historical drama, we have no cofunction about burning four hours a day of our own lives passively plunked in front of a television set. The thinking goes like, “If I can’t be as great as those heroes, why even get off the couch?”

As the example of Julius Caesar suggests, heroes of all kinds need role models. It has become a common place today to lament the loss of the great heroes, the great leaders.

We all complain that we have no one to look up to. A lot of my students and my juniors always ask me “where have all the heroes gone?”, I always say, “look around you. they are everywhere and you are even one of them.”

The people who admire heroes doesn’t need to live vicariously through him or her. We’re inspired by such figures in our lives, not intimidated.

The greatness lies in part in their very accessibility. They are available as models whose example can make our lives better, not put us to shame.

We need to realize that the rush of pride that comes from grand heroic gestures — finishing first in a marathon, saving a puppy from a burning building aren’t the only sign of a heroic act. We need to start seeing the magic in every single day.

When things are devoid of the small moments, or when the small moments start to feel inferior to the big moments, it has lost its inner spirit.

Let us put aside the belief that there are no models for great leadership anymore and train your eyes to recognize the heroes in our midst.

When we shift our focus slightly and embrace these small heroic act of heroism, it changes everything. We can learn to become heroes ourselves by seeing every small moment in our lives as an opportunity to perform an act as heroism.


featured photo: illustration by draw_joe_draw.


  1. As Peter Parker’s grandmother said in the 2002 film Spiderman, “There’s a hero in all of us.”


  2. I appreciate your insights into the definition of “hero” and the innate potential in all of us to be one. People who are consistently kind to others are heros we encounter every day.


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