by Bea Goggin
Hero Definition Essay
A hero: someone who puts others above themselves, and someone who people look up to. Someone who has a positive influence not only on individuals they encounter, but on the whole world. You don't need to do grand things like save puppies and small children from burning buildings to be considered a hero. A task as small as helping your elderly neighbor retrieve their newspaper is, in many ways, heroic. No matter how inconsequential something seems, you can guarantee it has an impact on someone. All there really is to being a hero is putting in the effort to make your impact a positive one.
A lot of people think about heroes very dichotomously; either you are a hero, or you aren't. In my opinion, there are varying degrees of heroism all around us. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, heroism simply means “great courage”. For one person, an act of courage may be something as monumental as running for president. For someone else, simply confronting a teacher about an error you think they made while grading an assignment may take just as much bravery. At the end of the day, everybody has a little bit of ‘hero’ within them. A hero can also just be someone that you look up to. I’m pretty sure everyone in the world has at least one person who they look up to. So, by that logic, everyone must have someone who looks up to them. There is no person on this earth who is so great that they have no one to look up to, just as nobody is so inferior that no one looks up to them.
My dad, James Goggin, is an internationally respected graphic designer. He has inspired and mentored many young graphic designers, taught and lectured at design colleges, and, above all else, he is an amazing dad. When my dad was a kid his family moved a lot. Every time he moved he had to start a new school, make new friends, and twice, learn a new language. All of those things take a tremendous amount of courage. While they might not mean much to some people, they mean a lot to me. I too have moved around a lot, and once I had to learn a new language. I understand how hard it is, and I can see that moving really shaped who my dad is as an adult. I look up to him because he empathizes with me when I worry about moving, and knows what to say to reassure me. This is an example of how what may seem irrelevant to one person can be viewed as heroic by another. If I had never moved, I might not understand what an effect moving so much had on my dad. At the same time, if he hadn't moved as a kid, it would have been harder for him to help me and my sister through moves. Everyone experiences life differently. What you consider to be courageous depends on your experiences. Therefore, everyone is someone's hero.
“Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” Throughout her whole life, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has lived by these wise words of hers. As a feminist and women’s rights icon, Ginsburg has persevered through challenges with such a burning passion that it is near impossible to avoid her infectious love of equality and justice. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a true hero because despite the many challenges she faced, she rose above the people who didn't believe in her. Because of that, she serves as a huge inspiration to young people who want to accomplish something.
In the fall of 1956, Ginsburg enrolled in Harvard law school. Of the 500 students in her year, only nine were women. She received horrendously unfair treatment from even the highest up officials at Harvard. The Dean of Law even went so far as to ask her how she could “justify having taken a place that could have gone to a man”. According to the New York Times, she was so flustered by the question that she said “[My] husband, Marty, is a law student, and it [is] very important for a wife to understand her husband’s work”. Many young women in her position would have become defensive and probably angered the Dean in the process. Ginsburg however, knew that this was not a battle worth fighting. She knew arguing with the Dean would get her nowhere except the land of possible expulsion. That situation is an example of the extremely good judgement Ginsburg has displayed from a young age. It is a skill that has helped her tremendously throughout her whole life. She has used her cool head to fight for equal rights between genders, and without her many pivotal women’s rights cases would have ruled in the wrong direction. Ginsburg is a hero, for she places the treatment of others above her immediate needs. It also shows how hard she worked to deal with the prejudice female lawyers faced. The Dean’s question was inappropriate and grossly unfair; Ginsburg knew that. But, instead of getting upset and making people think even less of her than they already did, she gave a polite and non-inflammatory answer. That proves she had to deal with a lot of unjust treatment, and she worked very hard to not let it get the better of her. Those are two more reasons why Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a real hero.
My dad is not a Supreme Court Judge, nor has he make even a remote impact on the state of women’s (and human) rights. However, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, he had to overcome challenges and rise above people who doubted him to get where he is today. James Goggin (my dad) is an internationally respected graphic designer. He has lectured at the Barbican Art Gallery, London; School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam. His work has been exhibited at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York; the Design Museum, London. He even has work in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Practise, his studio, has worked with clients all over the world including the Carpenter Center at Harvard University, the city of Chicago, Phaidon Press, London, Tate Modern, London, Studio Gang Architects, Chicago, and Uniqlo, Tokyo. Although some people may not understand that these are all huge accomplishments, I can attest to the fact that they are. Since he was a young child, my dad has had a big interest in art. Throughout most of his childhood his parents nurtured and supported that interest. However, once he got to highschool and his parents realized art was more than just a hobby to him, they grew worried. In his last few years of high school, his parents would not let him choose art as his elective. Instead, they decided, he would study physics. At that point in his life, my dad was sure he wanted to go to art school and study graphic design. That concerned his parents. They worried that he would not be successful as an artist, and that he would not earn enough money to support himself. Instead of giving up on his dream, he proved his dedication and love for art by doing it outside of school. His parents allowed him to do art in his last year of highschool, and study it in college. In the end, his parents had nothing to worry about. If my dad had listened to them, who knows what might have happened. He made the right choice by believing in himself and working hard to make something of himself in the art world. My dad is a hero because he inspires me to persevere through challenges and do what makes me happy, even if people don't believe in me.
A hero is someone who puts others above themselves, and someone who people look up to; Someone who has a positive influence not only on individuals they encounter, but on the whole world. Although my dad and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are not masked and caped vigilantes, they do all of those things in their own way. Therefore, I believe they are both true heroes because of the way they inspire young people to believe in their abilities.