What Makes A Person A Hero In A Crisis (And 5 Signs You Can Be One, Too)

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las vegas shooting heroes what makes a hero

Do you have that special kind of love?

By now, we’ve all witnessed in horror as gunfire stormed down upon 22,000 festival goers for a solid nine minutes. By the time it stopped, over 527 were reported injured and 59 would die in the Las Vegas massacre of October first.

While the terrorized crowd streamed out any way they could, courageous women and men ignored their own safety to help those in need. Like Mike Cronk, who refused to leave his buddy who was shot, and ended up flagging down an ambulance to take several he rescued to the hospital when his pick-up truck just couldn’t get through. And though someone’s son whom Mike tried to save didn’t make it, he died in Mike’s arms — not alone.


The way I see it, in spite of this despicable act, countless heroes were born this tragic night.

The unnamed husbands and mothers who selflessly used their own bodies to shield wives and children from the hailing bullets. The many people who stopped for downed strangers, plugging gaping wounds with their own fingers to prevent them from bleeding out before help could arrive, often getting shot in return. The first responders who yet again unwaveringly put their lives on the line. And the overwhelmed hospital staff facing a barrage of bloody decisions about life and death.

Related: Couple Who Survived Las Vegas Shooting Dropped To Their Knees To Pray When Shots Rang Out — Now They Need Help Finding Man Who Rescued Them 

But it wasn't just those handling the devastating carnage who made selfless choices that night. It was also the young woman who took home a little boy separated from his mother and didn’t stop searching until he was reunited with his family. The fellow victims and passing cabbies who freely offered their car for cover, or drove victims time and time again to the ER. And the throngs of others who, even days later, waited in line for hours to give vitally needed blood.

I’m reminded of the movie Hacksaw Ridge, the inspiring true story of WWII Pfc. Desmond T. Doss, who was eventually awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his otherworldly acts of bravery facing fire as an Army medic. Despite refusing to bear arms, he saved at least 75 men in the bloodbath Battle of Okinawa.

According to Doss, it was his faith that was behind his conviction to not bear arms. And it was his faith that gave him the strength to stay on that ridge, instead of pulling back, so he could save “just one more,” time and time again.

What would you or I have done in Las Vegas? We may never know for sure, despite our thinking that we could be among the brave.

This makes me think about the whole topic of spiritual faith, compared with religious belief and activities. Many are religious. They routinely go to church, mosque, or synagogue with like-minded others. They engage in the rituals. They recite the prayers.

But spiritual faith… it’s a whole different league. And as Christ taught about those with faith, you know them by their fruit.

Not their race or religion. Their fruit.

Faith is born of the spirit. It is the natural flow sourced from that kind of love.

And love begets love. Love is both source and fruit of faith. Love is the alpha and omega of divine livingness. Christ came to show us the way of that kind of love.

And all of this is the difference between “spirituality,” those who largely live, as did Christ, from that kind of love-born, love-infused faith or internal experience of God… and “religiosity,” a church or community of men with shared belief and in-common ritual. Such as Christianity, really mostly created by Paul’s and other apostles’ teachings about Christ. Or Judaism. Or Islam. Or the myriad of other religions around the globe and across time. Even materialism, atheism, or scientism.

There are indeed those who are both spiritual and religious. But would the majority of us truly pass the spiritual test required by that kind of love?


The heroes of 10:00 p.m. Sunday night on October the first surely did… the heroes who came from all backgrounds, races, and religions to unselfishly serve their fellow man.

And here are five signs that we too might pass such a test of unconditional higher, more spiritual, love, and become those who would risk ourselves to save ourselves:

1. We don’t wait for the big acts.

Each and every day we do the small things of love.

We instinctively open doors for others, both literally and figuratively. We speak kindly and courteously to those who check out our groceries, to those next to us buying gas, to those who serve us in restaurants or at home. When the elderly need a ride, we offer.

When someone cuts us off in traffic, we don’t react, because in our hearts we acknowledge we’ve all been there.

2. We don’t save love for only our one group, nation, religion or family.

The original message of Christ was simply the “brotherhood” of men, that he was our elder brother, and that our relationship to God was meant to be as “son to a father.” 

He was speaking then to a culture where men put themselves above women. And though he taught and lived treating women as equals, he regularly spoke in parables that he hoped men would understand… therefore, the choosing of the male gender in his educational stories.

Today, quantum physics is verifying the hidden truth in this message of Christ. We, in fact, are all brothers, interconnected as one humanity by the energy that flows from ancient stars and interweaves us within and without, above and below. We don’t create this source energy, and we can’t separate ourselves from it. But we can take responsibility for the energy we put out there… in every thought, feeling, and deed. And toward every people.

The ideal relationship between son and father is one of love. Christ wanted us to have a loving relationship with God, to move beyond the fearful one had by our forefathers.

Only when we allow a loving relationship with our source creator, our father above, does such unconditional love pour in. Only then can that kind of love pour out, from us and toward our brothers, all men on Earth.

Spiritual faith channels love from on high to all below. There is no one excluded from our love when we are “one with the father,” the state of consciousness that marks the true follower of Christ.

I’m reminded of when I worked with a residential treatment facility for adolescents involved with either the system of juvenile justice or child welfare. I was holding a training for staff, and teaching how important it was for these young people to feel loved if they were to have any chance of true transformation. Most came from neglectful or abusive home environments and had never felt love.

I asked for each staff member to love these youth. Later, a woman in her fifties approached me and asked what I meant. For her, love was only something you shared with family. It told me something of where she was on the spiritual path of love.

To pass the hero’s test of great love, we are called upon to consider all men our brothers and to love them as much as we can love ourselves.

3. We are planetary guardians in our everyday lives.

When nothing is excluded from our love, we begin to see the entire planet and all of its citizens as our brothers. This includes animal and plant life, both oceans and forests. Even the air that unites us and the minerals that support us.

We recycle, reuse, and renew. For the resources around us, we are thankful, not wasteful. And we readily share.

4. We have a sense of equality and reciprocity in our relationships.

When Christ taught us to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” he knew our humanness. He loved us regardless. He didn’t teach us to put our neighbor above ourselves, for he surely knew most of us couldn’t handle that and retain our mental health. From such a place of compassion, he asked us to love ourselves as best we could, but to love others as much as this.

This really boils down to reciprocity. Healthy relationships in this brotherhood of men are mutual in the love that is shared. The happiness and well-being of others is as important as our own.

5. As leaders, we do our best to meet the needs of all those we serve.

This means treating the needs of others as important as our own. Not just for some. Not just for those who selected us. But for all of those we lead.

When we are self-serving, we fail the test. When we only look out for the interests of our own party, group, or country, we fail the test.

Related: Why You Should Always Trust Your Intuition (But Maybe Not Your Gut!)

A leader of true spiritual and actualized faith unites us, works to ensure plentiful resources for all to live prosperously, collaborates on solutions to our most widely pressing problems, and cooperates with other leaders to maximize the effectiveness of all this joint effort.

This applies to our team at the office or our family at home. This is relevant in sports or local community organizations. And it’s never been more important to our country and its leaders than right now.

If after you read this list you honestly know you are doing a pretty good job at each of these, then evidence indicates a high probability you would pass a hero’s test of that kind of love.

I would say you seem to be a spiritual person, even if you don’t believe in the white-bearded image of God so often depicted in religious art. Clearly, you are moved by an energy larger than yourself. Clearly, you are moved by love.

And that is the greatest of all we are here to do.

Valerie Varan, MS, LPC, NCC is holistic psychotherapist and author of Living in a Quantum Reality: Using Quantum Physics and Psychology to Embrace Your Higher Consciousness. Call her at 303-547-8327 for spiritual life coaching or follow her quantum adventures at Facebook.com/valerievaranlpc, and at ValerieVaran.com.