The Illusion of Heroism

An article in today’s Melbourne’s Herald Sun had this stand-up-and-pay-attention sentence.

Juggling the illusion of heroism with the reality of heroes is a difficult thing.

The article discusses some real life heroes from the past year and is titled “Ordinary people can be heroes”.   There’s a man who rescued an infant from a burning house.  A man who campaigned for the proper treatment of asbestos victims.  A man who acted to help a stranger and was gunned down.  And many others who did something above society’s expectations for no reason other than it was the right thing.

The juggling comes from by the media’s habit of handing out the “hero” label to famous people who have skills rather than people with character.  It comes from Hollywood’s ideas of the type of lead character needed to sell movies.  It comes from seeing someone actually accepting risk for no personal gain.  If they’re all heroes, how can we even use the word in conversation without confusing ourselves?

The pleasing thing is that there seems to be a movement to recognize this dilemma.  People like Bryan Patterson writing this article, CNN producing a special, and Zeno Franco and Phil Zimbardo working to change the heroic definition in the psychology world.

Maybe we can help recapture the word hero for the heroes.

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One Response to The Illusion of Heroism

  1. Whitney Johnson January 7, 2008 at 5:40 pm #

    I like that you are exploring this aspect of heroism.