I watched a TED talk by Philip Zimbardo, who conducted the Stanford Prison Experiment and was an expert witness in the Abu Ghraib prison trial, on what makes us become either monsters or heroes. First, if you do not know what TED is, I highly recommend it! It is free online lectures and talks on a wide variety of topics – http://www.TED.com – check it out.
Zimbardo, went on to use a phrase during his talk that I absolutely love – “heroes in waiting.” What beautiful words. He goes on to describe that we, as a society, have the wrong idea of heroism and who we call heroes. We think that heroes require abnormal strength and intelligence, that our heroes are special people made of a special fabric. Zimbardo believes, and I agree, that heroes are everyday people. They are the stay at home mom, the working dad, students, teachers, you and me. Your race, occupation, age, gender are irrelevant. What defines a hero is action.
We never know when or where we will be called to act for good, but when we find ourselves in that moment where we can either act or standby and do nothing, what will we do?
We are all heroes in waiting.