This I Believe

Geoffrey - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Entered on February 7, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: gratitude

I believe that heroes exist only in fiction. No one, in our modern America, can be recognized for great and selfless acts. This is a bold and harsh statement, I know, but one that is formed through experience.

My friend and I were walking home following a party, not drunk enough to find the people there interesting. We came upon an aggravated rape in progress and decided to act. Well, it wasn’t a decision so much as a reaction. After a brief physical encounter (with both of us receiving injuries), we were able to stop it, take down the rapist, and hold him until police could arrive. Although it was on a microscopic level, I felt we made the world a better place.

But the backlash put me through an intense phase of self-hatred.

We told friends and family of the incident, not expecting the reaction we received: scorn, disgust, hatred, contempt. We were different people, ones to be feared.

This was a common response. We told about a hundred people of this and a total of five did not respond with some form of hatred. Instead of telling people we stopped a woman from being raped, we could have told people we raped some women that night and received the same reaction. I am not exaggerating that statement in any way. In fact, I will never forget my mother’s words to me:

“Never do anything like that again.”

But it was during a party in a friend’s attic on the third round of Wild Turkey amidst blaring music by David Bowie, The Faint, and Metric that a friend would call what I did to stop a rapist heroic.

I’ve never thought that, I just reacted to a situation. Ask me if I’m a hero. No, ask me if I’m even a good person. I’ll tell you that I’m not. From this, I believe that there is no one that can be recognized for selfless and heroic acts in modern day America. It is not in our nature. More so, I hope this belief will change one day.

The brutal truth is that we don’t show enough gratitude to the people that help us.

I’ve been accused of making this story up or that I’m seeking personal glory. I really wish either of these was true, as it would make the reality of the situation easier to take.

If there is a positive message in all of this, it is to show appreciation when other people are kind. I do not mean on a great level either. If someone does the dishes, buys you a drink, helps you with a project, lends you some money, or even just gives you a smile, just tell them thanks. Sometimes that’s all you need.