What it takes to be a hero

Published 9:59 am Thursday, September 20, 2018

I’ve been watching an anime series recently called “My Hero Academia.” It’s quite a popular series, especially among younger people, because of its cast of interesting characters and optimistic storyline.

The premise of the series is fairly simple. The main character, whose nickname is Deku, dreams of becoming a superhero but he’s held back by a lack of a superpower. (They live in a future version of Earth where almost everyone is born with some kind of strange “quirk.” These quirks range from typical ones like incredible speed and super strength to really weird ones like being able to shoot lasers from your belly button or sweating nitroglycerin to make fireballs.)

The story follows Deku as he attends a high school for superheroes, learning along the way from the people around him what it really takes to be a hero.

I’m drawn to the series simply because I’ve always been fascinated with superheroes. They’re the protectors of us regular people, fighting off injustice and restoring peace to the world. There’s something alluring about imagining yourself as a hero having the strength to take on all the terrible and dangerous things the world has to offer. As a kid, I imagined having all the super powers I wanted. Shapeshifting to sneak around, flying to get places faster, telekinesis to move things more easily.

Of course, those are all just fantasies since we don’t have superpowers in real life. No matter how much we may want to! If life was like “My Hero Academia,” I’d just be the background character watching all the action take place from a safe distance.

Truthfully, the topic of heroes has been especially on my mind this week in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. We were incredibly lucky to be spared the devastation that others to the south experienced. There’s a long road to recovery ahead for many of our distant neighbors.

But many people have stepped up to help out. The people driving boats to rescue others don’t have superpowers. The linemen getting the electric grid functioning again don’t have superpowers. The first responders helping people stay safe in all the chaos don’t have superpowers. The people serving food to the hungry don’t have superpowers.

But I’d call them all heroes anyway.

Any of us can use our skills, talents, money, luck, or whatever else to help somebody out. It doesn’t always have to be some grand display or gesture. We can be heroes too, even if only for a day or a few minutes.

Natural disasters always remind us of the importance of helping other people. But I hope even when the flood waters recede and all the tree limbs are cleared away, we’ll keep remembering to help each other whenever we can and however we can.

I want to challenge myself to keep looking for more ways I can help going forward. And I’d like to challenge anyone reading this to do the same.

In the first episode of “My Hero Academia,” everyone laughed at Deku’s dream of becoming a hero because he doesn’t have a superpower. But when another person found himself in danger, Deku jumped into action without hesitation. He didn’t defeat the villain, but his few minutes of help were enough to save the other.

What I’m saying here is something we already know. Heroes don’t all wear capes. Heroes are just people who help other people.

But it’s good to be reminded of this as often as possible. Sometimes it’s easy to forget.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or by phone at 252-332-7206.