Heroism, as we know it, is a term that defines someone who’s bigger, better and just downright more powerful than the regular humble man or woman. Thanks to fiction, we often liken being heroic to being superhuman. Yet, far from cape-wearing and crime-fighting, being a real-life hero has little to do with having superpowers when we consider that a strong sense of empathy and morality — the markings of a true hero — are strictly human capacities.
The exemplary real-world individuals who we come to recognize as heroes are types like benign world leaders, peacemakers, soldiers, activists, or philanthropists. But heroism can happen in the most unexpected places, and it’s not limited to a life-long career of do-goodery; it’s what many neurologists have determined to be a human predisposition.
Many believe that being brave in defense of someone else is a strong indicator of innate altruism and a unique ability for empathy. Researchers have recently found that, in the United States, people are self-reporting significantly decreased levels of empathy over the last 30 years. Perhaps this is why acts of heroism, like defending someone who can’t protect themselves or sacrificing oneself for the survival of the group, are relatively rare in the media when compared to the frequency of reports on violent crime, murder, and other atrocities.
The following individuals are ordinary people who have, impulsively and unselfishly, performed heroic feats to save the life of another. They prove that to be a hero requires no second thought but rather, the full force of action. Anyone can become a hero given the opportunity, and yet not everyone does – that’s what makes these five people so inspiring. The following individuals have recently made headlines for proving that heroism can happen at any given time and can transform an ordinary person into someone extraordinary.
5. Christina Simoes – Hero mom leaps out of burning building to save her toddler
Christina Simoes made headlines in May 2014 for surviving a deadly fire in her home in Massachusetts and saving the life of her young child. When her apartment complex caught fire, Christina, seeing no way out, cradled her 18-month-old son Cameron in her arms, kissed him, and told him she loved him. Using her body as a shield, she leapt out of the window and landed on her feet but the impact shattered her vertebrae – doctors say she’ll never walk again. Although she is now paralyzed from the waist down, because of her heroic feat her son survived with barely a scratch.
4.Christian Gunter – Hero teen saves disabled veterans from a tornado
In April 2014, a powerful tornado struck Arkansas. During the hellish storm, 19-year-old Christian Gunter – who worked as a manager at a home for disabled veterans – sprung to action to help move 10 of the home’s residents away from the tornado’s path. He loaded up a van with the terrified vets and moved them to a nearby church. The courage to act competently during something as nerve racking as a tornado surely attests to Gunter’s heroism. After all, most of us would flee in panic at even the mention of a tornado approaching, but not this young man. The roof of the veteran home was torn clean off and Gunter’s own home was destroyed by the tornado.
3. Robert Kuba – Hero teacher saves his students from school shooter
In February 2014, Philadelphia, New York high school science teacher Robert Kuba saw one of his students pull out a .22 caliber rifle from beneath a blanket. Instantaneously, Kuba approached the student and tore the weapon away from him. He calmly led the disgruntled student out of the classroom and called for help. After turning the offender over to the proper school authorities, Kuba returned to teach the remaining 15 minutes of his class. It seems great catastrophe was avoided by the quick thinking of this brave man.
2. Mindy Tran – Hero mom uses her body to stop a car and save her kids
In March 2014, Mindy Tran – a 22-year-old mother of two – parked her car atop a steep hill. After she got out of the car to lock her door, it began to roll down the hill with her two young girls still inside. Seeing no way to stop the rapidly moving car, Mindy laid down on the ground in front of it and essentially acted as a speed bump. The car ran over her but was slowed down long enough to allow a bystander to safely pull the girls out of the car. She suffered a broken leg, hip, and shoulder but triumphantly states when recounting the nightmare, “It was all for my kids”. Score one for a mother’s love.
1. Aitzaz Hasan – Hero teen sacrifices his life to save 1,500 students from a suicide bomber
In January 2014, 17-year-old Aitzaz Hasan stood up to a suicide bomber right outside of his high school in Pakistan. The bomber intended to enter the school and detonate his jacket made of 13 pounds of explosives but Aitzaz acted fast and challenged the attacker to a physical brawl. After a brief fight, the cowardly bomber set off his explosives, killing both of them instantly. Although his murder was a heartbreaking tragedy that’s left many throughout the country grieving for the young man’s life, nevertheless Aitzaz’s bravery saved 1,500 of his peers from certain death as he summoned the extraordinary selflessness to step up and protect them.