This may sound strange, but to me a hero is a man who will not accept the status quo if it does not meet his standards. For an instant or for an hour or for a month or in the case of prisoners, maybe longer, he will stand up and turn his world around. “It’s not right that that ticking hand grenade should kill everybody in this foxhole. I’m going to fall on it.” “It’s not right that this company of marines surrounded on this mountain top by the Chosin Reservoir should wither and freeze and surrender! We’re going to break out of here!” “It’s not right that I should bring harm to my fellow prisoners by letting myself be forced to inform on them. I’m going to break a window and cut myself up!”
By Stockdale’s definition there are opportunities in all of our lives, both on a grand scale or a more immediate one, where we can turn our backs on the status quo and act like heroes.