I love to hear about heroes, and I don’t think I’m alone in this. Ever since an unknown Mesopotamian author thought up Gilgamesh’s quests, or Homer sang of Achilles’ war exploits and Ulysses’ odyssey to get home, people have been inspired and thrilled by the adventures, bravery, and wisdom of great champions. Others, such as composers, writers, philosophers, and so on, may have lived less adventurous lives, but their accomplishments set them apart as well.

It may seem as though heroes are hopelessly above our level, and that most of us don’t have a shot at emulating them. And yet, there are many people in our everyday lives who demonstrate heroism or perform selfless acts; for instance, firefighters, paramedics, advocates for the poor and needy, but also teachers, reporters, volunteers, and so on.

Each of us in our own way is capable of heroic deeds. Even though we don’t possess Superman’s powers or Batman’s cache of gadgets or James Bond’s perfect poise … and even though the problems we face can be much more complex than the clear-cut situations found in fiction, the real world has never ceased needing heroic people who are willing to stand up for what is right and come to the aid of those in need.

It’s been said that the opposite of a hero isn’t a villain, it’s a bystander. The thread that ties together the articles in this issue of Activated is that the people featured didn’t stand by when help was needed. They took action, whether in small or large ways, and left their mark in the lives of those around them.

And what does that mean for you and me? Well, luckily for us, heroism might be easier to attain than we imagine.