Heroes and Hero Worship

I once heard someone say that each time we create a hero, we diminish our own capacity for greatness. It’s a truth I can easily subscribe to because I cannot relate to the reality of having heroes to begin with. I’ve never looked at someone and thought to myself, “I want to grow up to be just like you”. So this truth is my truth, whether convenient or not. I consider those with heroes to be blessed, but simultaneously sheltered. The convenience of it must be so comforting.

I’m not talking of heroes from history books or personalities that existed at some point in time prior to my existence. Those tend to be mythical figures of greatness more than anything else because of the bias that history affords them. Their status is relative to the narrator and therefore lacks in authenticity more often than not. The heroes that matter are the ones that bring value systems to life. The ones that are authentic to their stated principles and engage sincerely whether they meet a pauper or a prince. Those heroes I have yet to meet.

Imagine a life where you have someone like that to turn to for advice and guidance. Someone that gently prompts you in the right direction when you err, or sets you out on the right footing so that you err less. Imagine being able to speak your mind or ramble about your dreams, and such rambling is met with a fond embrace and assurance that anything is possible, rather than a cynical slap in the teeth to wake you from your daydreams to smell the coffee. Imagine how beautifully sheltered you would be then?

That is why hero worship diminishes our own capacity for greatness. Heroes are figments of our imagination. We turn ordinary beings into creations that are larger than life, not because they wanted it, but because our fickleness needs it. Well, sometimes they want it. In fact, most of us desire it because we see how heroes are celebrated for just being humane or acting with conviction. You’d think that would be the norm, but alas it is not, and the sarcasm dripping from my mouth right now makes it difficult to continue this train of thought.

But that’s what heroes and hero worship is. It’s an indulgence in our own fantasies because we’re raised with fairy tales and tooth fairies. Yet, despite this reality, the gravity of life far outweighs the gravity of earth, and in so doing, we all yearn for such celebration because it would allow us to experience a manufactured reality that is beyond the grasp of the average being. Then again, isn’t all reality manufactured?

Be a hero, or create one from nothing, the awkward truth remains. It is only the unpleasant appeal that life holds for us in general that lends credence to fairy tales and heroes because without them, the raw reality of our existence is too much for the fickle masses to bear. Unethical leaders recognise weakness well, which is why they play into these fears and create heroes out of medication, distractions, and trinkets by convincing us that without it we simply would not be able to survive.

[end cynical rant]

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4 Replies to “Heroes and Hero Worship”

  1. A well written and thought provoking post. For ten years my hero has been my grandson. Before that, I never thought of anyone as a hero. I am, however, one of the many with memories buried so deep that I only have the conscious effects, to tell me they exist.

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    1. That’s really interesting. I’ve always heard of people recognising or choosing heroes that have preceded them in life, but rarely has anyone identified a hero for themselves to be someone younger than them. He must be an amazing guy. 🙂 But I think it also provides insight into what we define as aspirational goals, and how we see those goals personified in the people around us. Inspiration is drawn from the most unsuspecting places at times.

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