Can heroes still exist?


karrie
#1
This has been a nagging issue in the back of my mind for a while now.

In our current paparazzi lifestyle, can heroes still exist? Will our jaded minds allow true heroes to exist anymore?

Would the great men and women of the past, to which we hold up potential new heroes, have survived the scrutiny of the modern media? Would they have survived the gluttonous appetite for scandal that modern society demands be fed? Is there any one person who was truly so perfect that we wouldn't have picked their life apart?

Is there anyone alive today who possesses that perfection? If they did, would we accept it, or be suspicious of it?
 
MikeyDB
#2
"Heroes" is a loaded concept.

Humankinds desperation to elevate human-behavior to "heroic" is fraught with condtradictions and these condtradictions have never been more apparent than they are today.

Olympic atheletes (well an enormous number of atheletes) admit to using artificially enhanced skills...

George Bush decorates a warship with "Mission Accomplished" and the war continues on....

"Embedded" TV reporters and "leaked" video demonstrate the potential for abuse and torture by our "heroes" in Iraq and Guantanamo.....

The great "guardian of freedom" the United States admits to building and maintaining prisions around the planet.

Timothy McVeigh is vilified while the BATF and FBI are sung as heroes for the Waco massacre...

What's a hero anymore?
 
triedit
#3
I think that heroes exist all around us. And certainly we all have potential.

I think the problem is the same today as it has been in our lifetimes--people think that more exposure means the person is more important, and vice versa.

A long time ago when my daughter was in long term infant neonatal care several hundred miles from my home, there was a woman who came to see her every day. She would rock her and hold her and sing to her, etc. She was there because her son was one of those "kids in a plastic bubble"--couldnt be exposed to the regular atmosphere. She couldnt hold her own child, but she could hold mine in my absence. Nobody gave her any press, but she's a hero to me.
 
Toro
#4
The firefighters that ran up the WTC on 9/11 are heroes.

There are heroes all around us.
 
MikeyDB
#5
Tridedit

Indeed!

We have only to look around us at the people who perform spontaneous acts of kindness to find a hero.

I have one...its Curio....

For no other reason than the unfairness of the situation, Curiosity made the effort to help and I will always reserves a special place in my heart for her and her expressed kindness and spontaneous act of selfless-ness.

Daring to care isn't "vogue" anymore and we've become so veneered to atrocities and injustice that we fail to acknowledge the compassion and heroism that surround us.
 
triedit
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by ToroView Post

The firefighters that ran up the WTC on 9/11 are heroes.

There are heroes all around us.

Most firefighters really. They take risks for the sake of another. Especially the ones who respond to false alarms over and over when they KNOW it's probably a prank. It would be so much easier just to ignore it, but still they come. Still they have a look at the area where the alarm went off. Still they reassure the folks nearby that all is well. I think that's heroic.
 
karrie
#7
Okay... now, I know there are people around us who do heroic things. Ordinary people are our best heroes.

But, in terms of a cultural hero... let's use those firefighters as an example.

Jim Bob the fireman, who pulled let's say twenty people to safety. We call him a hero. He gets talked about in a news paper. If he gets seized upon by the public psyche, how long would it be before the 'sacred cow' mentality of the incident wore off, and the media started scrounging for more information on him? What are the chances that his life would actually hold up to public scrutiny, and allow him to remain a hero in the broader sense? What are the chances that he never did drugs, drank too much, got arrested for whatever it is young men get arrested for... ?
 
triedit
#8
Ahhhh I see. Perhaps there are no "real heroes" in terms of people who are always heroic. I know it's semantics, but technically anyone who does something heroic--even once--is a hero. Perhaps there is a difference between a hero and an icon. Icon seems transitionary.
 
MikeyDB
#9
I suppose it depends on what you want in a "hero"?

I walked into a jungle in Cambodia with forty two other guys and they saved each other's lives on an almost hourly basis....

"Heroism" demands certain dynamical agents and situations, and if we "set the bar" on heroism as never having a human foible or falling in the eyes of someone's judgment and opinion....
 
karrie
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by MikeyDBView Post

I suppose it depends on what you want in a "hero"?

I walked into a jungle in Cambodia with forty two other guys and they saved each other's lives on an almost hourly basis....

"Heroism" demands certain dynamical agents and situations, and if we "set the bar" on heroism as never having a human foible or falling in the eyes of someone's judgment and opinion....

and yet for a cultural icon (which triedit is probably right, might be a better term), if you hold someone up as a hero... if your kid has their poster on their wall... then a human foible is a HUGE deal. Drugs? Frequenting prostitutes? It doesn't matter what it is... we expect public figures to be squeaky clean if we're to allow them to maintain 'hero' status. Yet it's virtually impossible... they're all still human.
 
Toro
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by trieditView Post

Most firefighters really. They take risks for the sake of another. Especially the ones who respond to false alarms over and over when they KNOW it's probably a prank. It would be so much easier just to ignore it, but still they come. Still they have a look at the area where the alarm went off. Still they reassure the folks nearby that all is well. I think that's heroic.

Yes, thank you.

You're absolutely right.
 
Vereya
#12
That's a very interesting question, Karrie. I think that though heroes still exist, they hardly ever get into the center of public attention. Being a hero is not glamourous. And right now in the modern society, due to several factor, the priorities are somewhat misplaced. All the huge show business industry serves the purpose of "occupying" the public attention. It pays better to photograph Brittney Spears' lack of underwear, than to write about real heroes. it's got a good point, however - once you become a hero, you may not worry too much about having your dark secrets revealed.
And, frankly, I don't think it is possible to become a hero without first having done something, that would be deemed unacceptable or just "too weird" by general standards.
 
El Barto
#13
Two types of Heroes I see .
The one that had a hero moment , did that incredible act that went beyond his or her thought of their own safety for someone else's.
Then you have the every day hero that you noticed after its all gone and done. Someone like Tried it mentioned.

There is that counter effect of dissecting them and making them less then perfect.
Example , the fire fighters who went in the world trade center . They were reacting to an emergency, saving lives was their priority. But after the event yes they slowed down the evacuation when going up the stairs. Tho that's true, hind site is 20/20 and easy for anyone to criticize and find fault. But these men were reacting to an incredible situation. The effort was there, they put their life at risk for another. And with that act firemen have been seen in a new light as that . Heroes...........
 
china
#14

It's sad that something in us wants to follow, to have heroes to look up to, models on which to base our lives, truly a pity .
 
MikeyDB
#15
China

Western culture thrives on the concept. Bold individualism, a willingness to break the "rules", an affirmation that the individual and individual freedom is the ultimate and greatest virtue.

Unfortunately western culture is also a culture that thrives on fantasy in the face of continuing disappointment and desperation. The "Wild West" of the United States, where the icon of 'Americanism' the cowboy comes to the aid of the townspeople when a criminal rogue from "back east" sets up a gangster empire/operation.....

Criminality rules and it takes a man like Elliot Ness the hero of law and order to bring justice to the gangland chaos that "free enterprise" and unbridled individualism spawned in many American cities.

The gangster him/her-self became a "hero" to many Americans. The renegade bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone, the list of criminals and the legends of Prohibition United States are the grist of a movie industry mill that continues to crank out mostly disingenuous worthless crap that is scooped up and swallowed down by people left to feel powerless and disenfranchised from their society and their lives.

American military propaganda in the form of "war movies" using big name stars that represented the political will of the day and although body bags come streaming home from South East Asia, the "heroism" pummelled into the American psyche of fighting the evils of communism , successfully divided the people of the United States permitting (just like Iraq and Afghanistan) the war machinery and war profiteering to go on until the blood became too deep...for the "return" on investment....

"Heroes" are sometimes "iconic" and particularly so in European and Asian cinema as once again a population is manipulated to believe the unbelieveable and embrace the fantasy provided by a self-serving power structure.

It should tell people something about the choices we make in lionizing a set of behaviors and expressions that we're conditioned to regard as "heroic", but the reality of the outcome of these folk who've elected to break the rules and take the law into their own hands is the stuff of the American Dream.

There's a great deal wrong with the "hero"-notion when a phoney war (VietNam, Granada, Iraq, Nicaragua, Haiti, etc. etc.) become the metric of "heroism". American iconography in particular is an entirely shameless misrepresentation of what and who the average American is, and yet from the nickel spent at the movie house to watch as John Wayne and Bruce Willis and all the other artificial heros of the genre re-affirms the willingness of Americans to live somewhere other than reality.

Our friends Toro and Triedit have mentioned the actions of firefighters on Sept. 11/2001 as heroic and indeed is was, but the idea that there may have been something other than merely the attack of a radical terrorist fanatical criminal gang behind the events of that day would impinge on the "heroism" of that action and so any idea that there were contributing elements to the initial causality and the resultant carnage is strenuously and vigorously rejected.

Elvis Presley, Madonna, Hulk Hogan, Barry Bonds, Tom Cruise, the ideafication of what makes a "hero" a "hero" is forged in the furnace of pop culture. A furnace that is in fact a mirror (is hoped to be by many at least) of the courage and persistance of the individual heroic figure translated onto the average individual.

When forced through circumstance to look at the dug enhanced "heroic athlete" or the morally dubious behavior of the rock star or the film star, the luster is never lost on the "image" of the hero as clutched desperately to the bosom of a nation hungry and crying out for "heroes".
 
china
#16
Hi Mickey, thanks for the post .
 
Tonington
#17
What El Barto says is what I tend to think too. A hero is made for a split second decision every day. The rest of their life may have been mundane, even shady. But if in one second they make the choice to go out of their way, risk peril to their own life to save another, well then that's heroic, that's a hero.

A cultural hero, that's a different circumstance altogether. The media love to attach themselves to these people, more than that they are the ones who create these situations. I think it's very true that they love to see a hero made, but even better is when the hero falls. It's not really fair to elevate someone to such status for an instant, then dissect their life to qualify that greatness that they have been given.

A hero doesn't mean you're a great person, it only means you did something great. So for that I think there will always be heroes, and I still think there will always be the cultural heroes. 15 minutes of fame for most, then they will be replaced by the next hero of the hour.
 
#juan
#18
Can heroes still exist?

I think it depends to some extent on our definition of a hero. The popular definition would be a person who, without care for his/her own safety or well being, did something to help others. Heroes come in all kinds of situations. A hero doesn't have to carry someone from a burning building. A hero could be a person who stood up against all odds for a principle or an idea to help the general good. In these days of instant communication, heroes likely come under closer scrutiny and the hero's warts, unfortunately, will be examined under a magnifying glass. The life of "heroship" is probably shorter in this day and age but we should always acknowledge our heroes.
 
karrie
#19
Where this dissection of public figures really makes me wonder, as well as with the hero/icon issue, is with upcoming elections. Can the US or Canada, with our current media environment, ever have a 'good' candidate? Aside from hating their political views, we now delve deeper into personal lives, dig for every last little fault. We tear apart their children's faults, their wive's faults, and their parents' and friends' failings. It seems like we can't truly just let anyone be a human anymore if they happen to be within the public eye. We have to expose and criticize the faults we ignore in our own circle of friends, family, and personal heroes.
 
Dexter Sinister
#20
Interesting question karrie. My immediate response when I saw it was more or less, "I dunno; what's a hero?" On thinking it over, I think life is full of everyday heroes nobody ever hears about, a conclusion prompted by the fact that I met one a couple of days ago, a woman to whom life has not been kind--husband committed suicide 15 years ago, leaving her with two young children and huge debts--and she's struggled back from that to produce two nice young people who are doing well. She was a stay at home mom, no education past grade 10 and, to be frank, not much in the way of intellectual gifts, but her values are sound and she works hard. She spent some time on welfare when her children were small and always hated it, she wanted to earn her way, not have it given to her, and as soon as she could she went to work. Minimum wage jobs to start with, waitressing, hotel maid, stuff like that, whatever was available, and now she's in her late forties, making about $1800 a month doing janitorial work. Not much, but enough for her needs. Compared to her life, mine has been one of extraordinary privilege and comfort; never in my life have I had to work as hard at crappy jobs as she has, or had to worry about making the rent payment and being able to afford food, and despite her hardships she appears to be cheerful and well-adjusted and grateful for what she has. That's a hero, by any definition I understand.

And on the subject of public heroes, top of my list is Terry Fox. So my answer to your question is a simple yes, they're everywhere.
 
Pangloss
#21
Karrie:

This thread rocks.

There seems to be a clear distinction here between the hero as someone who does a heroic act, and the "celebrity hero" - imagine a sports figure - someone who is called a hero merely because they are famous. Some folks might even think of - gasp! - Paris Hilton as their "hero."


Of course we have to have people to look up to, the extraordinary life that motivates us to try harder, and I see nothing wrong with that. Antoine de St Exupry and E.B. White are two of my literary heroes. They inspire (goad?) me into being a better, more disciplined writer.


Ought we scrutinize a politicians life when they run for office? Only if they run on their reputation or they base their campaign on "family values." Do they live now as they would like all of us to?

Senator Larry Craig is a good example, if only the most recent. Co-author of the military "don't ask, don't tell" anti-gay witch hunt policy, it was right and good for the press to report on his gay behaviour. His hypocrisy illuminated his politics.

If a politician runs on policy and ideas, and defends those policies and ideas on their own merits, without an appeal to authority or character, then you are right, we should keep our noses out of their personal business.

When was the last time an American political candidate didn't make a very public display of their piety? When was the last time a Canadian conservative (regardless of party) candidate didn't talk of the importance of leading a disciplined, moral life? As soon as they do this, we get to see if they walk the walk - their personal lives have been made fair game by their own words and actions.

Pangloss
 
Curiosity
#22
This is an excellent topic and I was saving it to read when my morning coffee had finished complaining....

I was shocked when I read as many references to U.S. "figureheads" as were mentioned - and realized the impact the U.S. media truly does have on Canadian culture these days. How can you escape I have no answers but I find it very sad. How many times have I desperately wanted to read Canadian history, Canadian daily activity, what Canadians are doing .... and another day wishing.

I had heros, still have but I doubt if their names were ever listed in print other than birth, marriage, death kind of stats in the local paper .... but whether acknowledged by some, a vast number, or none, means nothing in their place in my mind and in my heart.

Humans exceeding the daily grind and finding themselves in a position to make a difference through an herioc act of course are heros.... but those who go through their lives quietly making a difference on a daily basis are also heros....

We need these people as examples of inspiration and I think having heros is a good thing.... but having a hero because he or she is talented in some way, isn't heroic - but rather a birthright - and I am speaking about athletes or artists.

Heroic to me simply means stepping out of the regular into the special for the benefit of another or many or overcoming enormous odds to accomplish some notable feat or exercise or discovery.

I hope we humans will always treasure the concept of admiration of others who perform heroic deeds.
 
darkbeaver
#23
Terry Fox gave himself to all of us, selflessly. The world is full of unsung heros and heroines they inspire by example. I'am aware of the overuse and misapplication of the word though, and the commercial cheapening of the virtue. False heros abound.
 
Curiosity
#24
MikeyDB

At the risk of bring further attention to myself, I cannot let your kind message go without acknowledgement. Thank you for writing those words - I will try to continue living up to them.

Last year I was in a great bargain with God .... it worked for me ....
 
Curiosity
#25
Pangloss and Beav

Terry Fox was the epitome of a glorious hero for a whole nation who loved the man and what he accomplished and he was totally your Canadian son.... all yours. Can't get any better than that.
 
darkbeaver
#26
Quote: Originally Posted by CuriosityView Post

Pangloss and Beav

Terry Fox was the epitome of a glorious hero for a whole nation who loved the man and what he accomplished and he was totally your Canadian son.... all yours. Can't get any better than that.

I think he gave himself to everyone regardless of nationality. True heros transend mundane reality.
 

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