When I was in Rabbinic School I had the opportunity to meet poet and activist Danny Siegel. Danny (at the time) spoke a great deal about what he called "mitzvah heroes", people who devoted themselves to a cause selflessly, because it spoke to them and they felt it was necessary.
Sadly, we lost a mitzvah hero this week. Lenny Robinson, aka the Baltimore (or Rt. 29) Batman, died when he was struck on the side of the road. A millionaire, he spent a good part of his fortune dressing as Batman and visiting sick children in costume, sometimes for hours. Not an actor (though he rarely broke character) he would bring toys and paraphernalia and spend a significant amount of time making these kids feel special and loved, going so far as to driving to the hospital in his own Batmobile. No one asked him to do this; he did it because he had enough, and wanted to care for others. He didn't ask for permission or wait for someone to create a program; he just did it.
Yes, he could afford to drop the cost of a family car every year on Batman stuff (and really, if you could, you would) and take the time to do this. But that isn't what made him a mitzvah hero. What made him a mitzvah hero was his willingness to act, without hesitation.
Most of the time, we don't act; we think, we wrestle, we weigh our options. And truth be told, Action alone is not always the best choice. But I can't help, when thinking about Lenny, that I'm thinking about Danny Siegel as well, and how much better the world would be if we all stepped forward and acted--without waiting, weighing the options or getting approval-- even just a little more often, the world would be a better place.