In the wake of Japan's earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear failures, we're seeing that every culture and age has its heroes. It raises the question of how societies produce heroes. Are heroes the product of some genetic anomaly or is heroism something that is taught?
Heroism and compassion are not genetic traits, says sociologist Christine Carter.
As part of her online parenting class at raisinghappiness.org, Carter teaches parents how to raise children to become heroes.
“Kids are more likely to intervene in a situation if they believe their parents expect them to help,” Carter says. “Speaking out when someone is cheating or being bullied in the schoolyard — these are situations when someone decides not to be a bystander. That’s part of the heroic imagination, teaching children there is often a time when they know something bad is going to happen before it happens,” Carter says.