Without Them, We’d Fall–Part I

I did some research today on the internet about heroes and why society needs them, and I found many, many articles that all confirmed the same idea: society is built around the worship of heroes.

One article I found was great for breaking apart the top ten reasons why we need heroes, and what they do for us. You can find the article here.

Here are their reasons for why we need heroes, as well as my own response to their thoughts:

All quotes belong to Scott Allison and George Goethals

  • We’re born to have heroes–“all humans have collectively inherited unconscious images, ideas, or thoughts”
    • We can all recognize heroes in our lives. We know that the person who is stronger than everyone else, or who helps those struck by disaster, or who even just makes us smile on a bad day, is a hero. There is a basic human knowledge of what it means to be in need of help, and to recognize the good in those who lend their aid.
  • Heroes nurture us when we’re young–“all of us owe whatever success we’ve had in life to the people who were there for us”
    • Heroes make sacrifices to make sure that someone else is given the chance to grow. They protect those who are weak and vulnerable and make sure that they have a safe environment. This doesn’t just mean parents–it can be anyone in your life who has encouraged you and enabled you to develop.
  • Heroes reveal our missing qualities–“heroes reveal to us the kinds of qualities we need to be in communion with others”
    • There are a lot of different traits associated with heroes–strength, bravery, wisdom, quick-thinking, unconditional kindness, skillfulness, etc. We probably determine our heroes based on the traits that we admire and wish we had, so that we might learn what it takes to possess them. Heroes can introduce us to a part of ourselves that we might not have known existed.
  • Heroes save us when we’re in trouble–“we are moved by stories of magical beings with superhuman powers who can instantly remove danger and make everything right”
    • I’m willing to bet just about everyone has had one moment when they’ve been completely helpless. Something goes wrong and we can’t make it right. Scared, frustrated, despairing–until someone comes along who has the power to fix your problem. Heroes remind us we don’t have to give up–we just need to find someone who can help.
  • Heroes pick us up when we’re down–“heroes lift us up when we’re personally in danger of falling down emotionally, physically, or spiritually”
    • Sometimes we encounter obstacles that we not only are powerless to overcome, but which are also crushing, debilitating forces. We lose the will to continue fighting because we’ve lost faith in ourselves. That’s when heroes come along, putting the strength back in our legs so we can stand and showing us that the end is near if  we can just last a little longer.
  • Heroes give us hope–“heroes bring light into a dark world”
    • The world is full of difficulty and fear, with tons of challenges and adversity. Sometimes it seems like the pain is endless, the darkness absolute, and we can lose hope. Heroes are the lantern that guides us, however, showing us that the darkness can be penetrated and that, amongst all the despair and the cruelty, there’s still that glowing spark of goodness and honesty.
  • Heroes validate our preferred moral worldview–“just thinking about the fragility of life can lead us to need and to value heroes”
    • Many people fear death, or failure, or pain, and this fear can lead us to reach out more desperately for those who will save us from these dark things. When we experience fear, we stick more strongly to our moral codes, standing up for what is right because we know that it will save us. When we are afraid, we live in greater support of the heroes and goodness who fight for us.
  • Heroes provide dramatic, entertaining stories–“stories of heroes and heroic myth have entertained humans since the dawn of recorded history”
    • Let’s face it: you cannot, cannot, cannot have a story if there is no hero. The hero might not be a person, maybe a concept or a thing, but it exists nonetheless and makes the story worth reading or experiencing. In every story, there is a conflict and a problem, and thus someone or something that is the solution. Heroes make life interesting.
  • Heroes solve problems–“heroes save lives with their brains, not just with their brawn”
    • Everyone has some sort of problem, and some are just too big for any “average” person to handle. These are the problems that we rely on heroes to solve. Whether it be a matter of physical strength, moral judgement, or just how to fit ten pounds of potatoes in a five pound bag, we recognize that the right person for the job is often a hero.
  • Heroes deliver justice–“we need to believe that we live in a just world where good things happen to good people”
    • When bad things happen to us when we thought we’ve been nothing but good, the first thing we think of is how unfair our situation is. We don’t feel that we or others should be punished for something we or they didn’t do, and this is where we develop a real thirst for justice. That’s when we see heroes, saving the innocent and defeating the evil, as exactly what we need.

There are, as you can see, a lot of reasons why we embrace heroes and even need them in our lives. Our heroes shape who we are and what we believe, help us stand on our own or share a heavy burden, and remind us that life is a fantastic journey full of hope and inspiration.

Of these ten reasons, I agree most with that they reveal our missing qualities, that they give us hope, and that they provide for an interesting story. I know that all of the heroes I admire are heroes who possess qualities I strive to possess (such as courage and compassion), are living examples that hope is a light bright enough to dispel the darkness of fear, and have fascinating back stories and adventures. Heroes are who I want to be, the spark that keep me burning strong, and the tale that feeds my soul.

Which reasons do you most agree with?

May you have many reasons for admiring your personal heroes, and may they continue to shape who you are.

-Alex

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