Since time in memorial heroes have been thought by most to be those who do not retreat, who put themselves in danger of their lives. In the annals of heroism fighting to the death is but one, and then maybe not the finest one, of which human beings are capable.
There is a story of the Camps, brief as it is tragic, of a Jewish child being taken to be gassed and crying not knowing where her or his parents were. There were amongst those early victims Catholics and a catholic nun took the child’s hand and walked with it, dying as the child died. It is one of those stories that is probably true despite my inaccurate summation lacking names and dates, and it is not known if the nun knew what was going to happen or not.
What we can say is that heroism is the joining of one’s being to the suffering of another. We can all fight for our own side, our own nation, that is nothing more than an extension of our animal selves fighting for the tribe. But when we, as a Sikh sage once did, can go to someone who is the enemy of another and plead for that other and pay with our lives, our torture or our social standing, then we use our reason to understand heroism is taking a stand not taking a life.