Friday, March 18, 2011

How Heroic Are You?

A Reflection on Heroism, Spurred by the 'Fukushima 50'.

Relatives from the 180 workers at the Fukushima nuclear plant are sharing tales of their loved ones' heroic acts:

"My dad went to the Nuclear Plant. I never heard my mother cry so hard. People at the plant are struggling, sacrificing themselves to protect you. Please dad come back alive." 

"My husband is working knowing he could be radiated,"  He told me via email, "Please continue to live well. I cannot be home for awhile." 

"My father is still working at the plant -- they are running out of food…we think conditions are really tough. He says he's accepted his fate…much like a death sentence…"

I have been thinking a lot about those 'ordinary' men (and women?), and I wonder what prompted them to volunteer their lives? 

Philip Zimbardo, from Stanford University has been asking the same question, as part of his 'Heroic Imagination Project':

Villain, reluctant hero, hero . . . it's hard to tell what lies within each one of us. How would you act in the following situation?


  1. Thank you so much Marguerite.

  2. Marguerite,
    Here is one that happened to me and a update:

    you don't have to post these

  3. 'Was Once', thank you so much for sharing your story (ies). May many others read it just I just did, and may they be inspired when the day comes and they pass by a stranger in need of help. I am all the more moved knowing how difficult life has been for you as well.

    Thank you for your big, open heart.

    May you be well today and always. May you be at peace, and at ease.

    Those two posts of yours have made my day :)

  4. David, you may want to read 'Was Once' posts, about an ordinary hero (him).

  5. Thank you for writing this. I can't imagine being so unselfish. I'd like to think I would and could, but how positively frightening to do so. My heart goes out to those families of the workers in Japan.

  6. Yes, same here. The reality is I have no idea how I would behave in a potentially life-threatening situation such as Fukushima. Also, there is a difference between ordinary compassion and heroism.

  7. Sometimes I think being a hero is doing the right thing, even though no one is looking.

  8. yes, giving of one self, without expectations of return of any kind.