Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

Is Heroism righteous?




What does it mean to be classified as a hero within our culture? Is not heroism marked by a self sacrificial commitment to doing what is best for others? If so, the element of self sacrifice indicates that heroism is inherently risky. Heroism surrenders the essentiality or supremacy of self interest and even survival.


Next, I wonder whether we consider acts of heroism to also be acts of righteousness. Are heroes righteous in their heroism, acting in the way we most approve and would hope to emulate at our very best? If our heroes are righteous in their risk taking, in their disregard for personal safety in the interest of others, then we apparently recognize that righteousness is potentially risky business, subordinating even survival.


Some may claim a non-heroic form of righteousness, meaning that all righteous acts are not self sacrificing. The church's concept of righteousness would probably fall into this category, since for them righteousness is a largely a state of religious correctness and piety. But even the church proclaims that its members endure great sacrifice and even risk to personal security in maintaining this state of religiously endowed righteousness.


Often we associate heroism exclusively with aggressively and violently opposing some evil human threat, the very definition of the warrior role. Under this paradigm, the suppression of that seen as unrighteous is by definition both righteous and heroic. The problem with this warrior definition of heroism is that its counter violence generates and perpetuates its own risk under the assumption of its own righteousness. The risk is self fulfilling and the assumption of righteousness is largely self serving. The advancement or maintenance of personal interest and security are not the definition of righteousness. Neither is the violence practiced against those perceived as unrighteous. Evil practiced under the guise of what is good and necessary is humanity's fallback justification for every form of wickedness.


In perhaps saner moments most realize that the real life heroes are not those who act violently or coercively, but the countless unknown and unheralded self sacrificers who enhance the lives of others around them in a myriad small ways. These heroes are all those who strive to behave well toward their fellowman because such behavior is the right thing to do. They routinely manage to rise above being motivated by self interest alone and accept the risk of loss inherent in sacrificing self for the benefit of others. Theirs is not a reliance on aggression and coercion to qualify as a hero but rather on compassion, concern, and empathy. Such heroes seek abundant life after the example of Christ.