By now, you have heard the story of Steven Slater, the flight attendant for Jet Blue. Essentially, he apparently cussed out someone on the plane he was attending, grabbed a beer, pulled the emergency exit chute and bailed out of the plane and went home. His Facebook followers have multiplied at a pace akin to our national deficit. And people are saying he is a hero. Clearly, there is something wrong with affixing that title to his actions.
When I think of a hero, this is not the first thing that comes to mind. According to m-w.com, a hero is
1 a : a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability b : an illustrious warrior c : a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities d : one that shows great courage
2 a : the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work b : the central figure in an event, period, or movement
3 plural usually heros : submarine 2
4 : an object of extreme admiration and devotion : idol
A hero is not someone who returns whatever the customer throws at you with profanity blazing over an intercom system. A hero is not someone who pulls an emergency chute, since it no doubt caused delays for those needing that plane in a few short minutes. A hero is not someone who abandons his job, duties and responsibilities.
The problem is, we have just too easily forgotten what a hero is, what he looks like, and how to properly celebrate one. A hero is that dad who works all day and comes home to his family. A hero is that mom who raises kids and takes care of everyone else and maybe even working a job all at the same time. A hero is the guy at the border looking at cars trying to keep drugs out of our country. A hero is the people that stop and help others before the police or EMS have time to arrive on scene. Heroes are everywhere, but they are not absent from their jobs, their duties, their responsibilities, or their faculties.
Reading between the lines, it’s obvious this guy has a lot of things going on in his life. He was not looking to be labeled a hero. And he was probably not anticipating the media attention. He will be facing lots of criminal charges. He will be out of a job. He will be back to dealing with the same issues before he bailed out of his job and that plane. How many of his new found Facebook friends will help the hero out when it all goes down? This guy needs more than hero worship, he needs help.