In all of mankind’s history, many have and will continue to seek approval and praise from their fellow man or woman. It is human nature to wish for acceptance and approval from the general population, which is the primary motivator for one to seek a title, occupation, or rank which bestows the most positive traits of one’s character. Many individuals may seek the title of king, philosopher, or lover, but few positions in this world are more coveted in the eyes of humanity than the title of hero. The hero is seen as a paragon of everything good, virtuous, brave, and powerful. The hero is worshipped by the common man as the epitome of everything one can hope to become or desires to become. The hero is not simply a man or woman with feelings, fears, worries, or struggles. That inability to be human is what ultimately makes the hero a title of mental slavery.
The common man or woman wishes to become a hero because they are told that it is a coveted position. Growing up, humans are told that the position of the hero is one everyone should aspire to become. The reason this position is so coveted is simply because few individuals ever accomplish the deeds tasked in order to earn the title of hero. The common man never understands the work that is necessary to gain anything of great or important value because of the natural instinct of man that has plagued his existence: Laziness. The average human is utterly incapable of accomplishing anything that requires effort simply because they don’t want to. Hard work is the only reason any society exists at all, yet few are thankful enough to truly understand that. Therefore, whenever someone does put in the effort to make the world a better place or simply keep everyone else safe and secure, they earn the title of hero. The price of heroism is a heavy one to pay. One puts their body and time on the line to make sure someone else’s life is easier and safer. This is a form of slavery not because of the deed, but because even the hero is bound to doing something for the sake of others with his or her own time. There are also other factors which someone must consider whenever honest discussion of heroism arises.
One such factor is the fact that the hero is not allowed to determine whether they are a hero or not. That is up to the society or individuals who the “hero” is saving or helping. The “hero” is only given that title if the society gets what it wants out of that individual. Once said hero outlives their usefulness, their title is stripped from them as though it never existed. If someone does a better job at performing for the society, the previous hero’s legacy is no longer remembered. The hero is replaced by the individual who performs better. The title of hero sounds more like an occupation when put in those terms, but that is ultimately the reality of the situation.
In many instances, another factor that is rarely discussed, but is often used as a trope in entertainment both past and present, is the values of the society that the hero risks their lives and time to accommodate. What if the society is a rundown ghetto where the citizens’ love of gang and drug culture is so entrenched into their moral fiber that the one person in that area who abstains from such vices is seen as a weak loser who needs to “man up”. In a world where doing the right thing is seen as weakness, thuggery and greed become the new virtues of heroism. This will ironically turn the one decent individual in the neighborhood into the villain. All it ever takes to be the villain in any society is to simply be unable to conform with the society in which you live. It simply doesn’t matter if you’re doing the right thing or not. As far as the society is concerned, you’re the problem as soon as you fail to toe the metaphorical line they present to you. Even if your deeds can potentially save their lives, the society will hate you for trying to do so in the first place. This will make it impossible for one to become a hero in that respective society. The only self respecting thing an individual in this case can do is either fight against them to preserve one’s own life and happiness, or walk away from the society to live in one that better fits that person’s moral value system. One generation’s heroes can quickly turn into the next generation’s villains or vice versa as soon as the society in which they live changes their value system.
It is my belief that the majority of those who were called heroes in this world did not choose to become heroes, but simply did what was necessary for themselves and others. If a person seeks freedom rather than approval, they must be willing to put their ego and hunt for approval away for the sake of their own gain in this finite life one has on this earth. No matter whether you are the hero or not, you will be free because you are the master of your thoughts and actions in this solitary pathway one calls life.
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