Not all heroes wear a cape or have super powers, but they’re still heroes, especially in the real world.

Here at ROGUE BLADES, we write a lot about heroes. In part that’s because we think a lot about heroes. We believe heroes are necessary, both the fictional and real kinds.

But sometimes our heroes are flawed. Here I’m not talking about fictional heroes, for fictional heroes with a flaw is a character type in and of itself, though the flaws come in various forms. No, I’m talking of real-world heroes. Yes, some of them are flawed.

In truth, all of them are flawed. They are human beings after all, and none of us are perfect. All of us fall short. It happens. Sometimes we fall short in small ways, and sometimes we become full-out monsters. Again, it is the human way, especially when there are billions of us across at least thousands of years.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to set aside the failings of any individuals or any particular groups. Their failings, or sins as they are commonly called, are for themselves to deal with and possibly for others to point out. Or not. I just want it clear I’m not offering absolution here. I’m no priest, after all.

But I’m also not trying to hammer upon anyone or any groups. There’s enough hammering going around in the world without me adding to it. If that means I fall short of your particular morality, well, then you can scream at me all you want or you can grow up and realize not everyone in the world acts, thinks or speaks the way you would want them to all the time.

Like everyone else, I’m a human, and yes, I’m flawed.

We live in a world with other people, and maybe, just maybe, in order for all of us to survive, we should try a little forgiveness from time to time. Maybe we shouldn’t equate every single sin with the worst that humanity can do.

Oh, yes, I was talking about heroes, because it’s related to what I wrote above.

Specifically, I was talking about real-world heroes. To repeat, they are flawed, sometimes they fail themselves and they fail us, because they are human. They are not perfect.

But that doesn’t make them any less heroes.

Often enough we feel the world no longer has any real heroes, that we’ve moved beyond them, or perhaps that the world has become so corrupted it is impossible for there to be any heroes. I’ll argue that’s not the case, however. The heroes are still out there, real heroes, those who save lives every day, those who protect us every day, those who guide our children, who feed us, who heal us, and more. Yes, these heroes might be flawed like the rest of us, but they are still heroes, doing the best they can to make the world a better place.

Yet for all their faults, think what the world would be like without them. Imagine a world where no medical professionals were there to see to your sick or injured loved ones. Imagine a world where no one in uniform stood between you and those who might do you harm. Imagine a world where no one cared to teach your children, to serve you food, to grow that food, to drive you to work. Imagine that world. Then tell me we don’t need heroes.

Oh, you might argue these people aren’t necessarily heroes, that they’re just doing a job for which they get a paycheck. Okay, there’s some truth to that, but these are also the same people who often enough have to take the extra step, who have to give a little more, in order to save lives or sometimes even just to make someone else’s day a little brighter. And this they do without extra pay, without more days off, without any real benefit to themselves. These are the heroes of which I speak.

Perhaps we have become too jaded and it’s not the heroes who have fallen short, but that we have fallen short, that we too often expect too much of our real-life heroes. Too often we expect them to be perfect at all times, and when they fall, we must hammer them with the might of our personal righteousness. That doesn’t make us the heroes, it just knocks down those who were trying to help.

I’m not arguing against pointing out the monsters among us and the horrible things they do, but I would argue that we need to stop publicly declaring every single individual a monster simply because they have fallen short of our ideals. For one thing, this allows the real monsters to learn better how to hide among us. For another thing, it’s counter productive. When our heroes fall short, kicking them while they are down does more than simply harm them, which is wrong in and of itself, but it does more: It keeps others from wanting to step forward to do the right thing. It keeps others from being the heroes they could be. Why put yourself out there when you’re going to catch grief for it?

Heroes, the real or fictional kinds, are here to set an example for the rest of us, examples of how we should be, of how we can be the best we can be. Without those heroes, then we have no one to emulate, no one to look toward with pride and say, “I want to be like that individual.” Without heroes, we have nothing but a dark world.

So maybe we should cut them some slack. Maybe we shouldn’t always hold them to standards which we ourselves could not meet on our best day. Perhaps we should point fewer fingers.

After all, they’re as human as the rest of us.