Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: What makes a real hero?

The term “hero” seems to be used rather casually these days

I’ve often wondered what I would do if I found myself in a situation where real heroics were called for.

Would I step up to the occasion like Superman and risk life and limb to save and/or protect someone else, or would I just stand there hoping that someone else at the scene would take on the task?

I guess no one really know these depths of their own character until they are called upon to show whether they have what it takes or not.

There were two stories from the Cowichan Valley in recent days in which two local folks had their bravery tested and came through with flying colours.

The first was Lake Cowichan’s Chelsea Bromley who, without a second’s hesitation, took on a cougar who had attacked her seven-year-old son Zachary in the family’s backyard on March 29.

Two young cougars had hopped the backyard fence, and one had Zachary’s head and neck in its mouth when Chelsea came out of the house after hearing a commotion in the yard.

Conservation officer Ben York told me, with awe in his voice, that Chelsea jumped onto the back of the big cat, pried its mouth open with her bare hands and ripped the animal away from her son.

While the cat in question was fairly young at approximately six months, it’s a fact that cougars have one of the most powerful bite forces in the animal kingdom so I can imagine that prying its mouth open was no easy task.

Chelsea also faced the possibility that the two starving cougars could have turned their wrath and hunger on her, but it appears that those considerations didn’t even enter her mind as she charged with a fury at the animal that was threatening the life of her son.

The other local story that highlighted bravery is about John Prokop, owner of James Street Billiards in Duncan, who came to the rescue of a police officer in July, 2016, after the officer found himself in a scuffle with a man who was getting the better of him and was trying to get at his service revolver.

Prokop was one of the many people who witnessed the fight, but was the only one who stepped in to help the officer.

Without any idea what, if any, weapons the perpetrator had or if he was on any drugs that could make him unpredictable and dangerous, Prokop jumped into the middle of the fray and assisted the cop until backup arrived.

For his efforts, Prokop received a Carnegie Medal for bravery this week, one of just two Canadians to receive the rare and prestigious award this year.

“I couldn’t believe everyone else was just standing there, with many actually taking videos of the fight, without doing anything to help the police officer,” he told me.

“It was the right thing to do.”

The term “hero” seems to be used rather casually these days, with many receiving the accolade just for surviving a major accident or storm.

I’m sure these incidents are horrific and may impact the survivors for the rest of their lives, but to be called a hero just because someone was there seems to be a little far fetched.

I think the term hero should be reserved for those who selflessly put others’ safety ahead of their own; like Chelsea Bromley and John Prokop.

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