When most of us think of performing a heroic act our minds conjure up images of someone saving someone else from a burning building, or some other dramatic action we believe to be more in line with what and who a hero is. In social definition, heroism is the action of someone in response to a crisis or situation that is a threat to someone’s life or well-being. Eliminating that threat is considered heroic. But what if that threat never existed because of the actions of one person? Would that be heroic?
In his 2007 best-selling book The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb puts forward the argument that we can only judge heroism if we apply it to events of the past. An example Taleb imagined is what if there had been a United States Congresswoman who managed to have a Bill passed that required all airplane cockpit doors to have three locks and that this law took effect on September 10, 2001. In this imagined scenario the attacks of September 11th might not have happened. Looking back we can say this would have been heroic by savings thousands of lives. But without 9/11 to judge it by..
You are probably wondering what this has to do with YWS and our supporters and staff. I consider the work of our dedicated staff teams and countless volunteers to be heroic. Perhaps your kindness to another person today may be the one thing that stops them from doing something drastic. Perhaps your smile and cheerful greeting revives hope when hope was fading. Perhaps your donation funds a warm bed and hot meal when despair has become too hard to handle, but this meal and bed brings comfort when it is needed the most. You may have saved a life or saved a youth from making irreversible choices. Your actions are heroic.
Through your support of YWS in the fight to end youth homelessness, you are a hero. Our staff teams perform heroic acts dozens of times a shift. Connect with a youth, show them someone cares, ask them how they are doing today, see them as the strong people they truly are and let them know it. Without the support from you, we can only fight half the battle. Just remember, you may be someone’s hero today without knowing it.