Heroes & Heroism

We all know what a hero is, at the very least the commonly accepted definition and concept of it. We’ve seen it pop culture. The main character, a protagonist, is living his own life when he’s called upon to accomplish an extraordinary task. Along the way he has to battle his adversaries and adversities, including true love, to achieve a happy ending for the good guys.

We know that superheroes like Batman and Superman don’t exist, so in reality what qualifies one as a hero? Is it the soldier serving our country overseas to protect our rights and freedom? Is it the firefighters and law enforcement who also give their lives every day to help ensure the safety of others? Or is it average people like you and me who go out of our way in daily life to help make a positive impact to other peoples’ lives?

One thing we have to consider when talking about heroes is who they are. Some just naturally have a good heart, while some may just be doing it out of pressure. No one’s free of mistakes, so how severe were their mistakes and should they be forgiven for those past mistakes and should those errors be long forgotten?

All the tales of happiness, struggle, and choices are illustrated in the Hero’s Journey, an archetypal pattern of narrative identified by American scholar Joseph Campbell.

The Hero’s Journey Chart Taken from http://www.veronicasicoe.com/

Essentially, the hero is called upon to face and resolve a dilemma. As the situation rapidly changes and gets worse, so do the hero’s surroundings — and most likely — even himself. Should the hero adapt to the situation or should he/she not? Should he/she succumb to his/her weakness or weaknesses or should he/she not? What really constitutes right from wrong? These are questions that the hero must answer to decide the fate of the situation and himself/herself. These are also questions that we ourselves must answer, which is why I believe this is strongly applicable to real life. What defines us as people and who we are?

To me, there are seemingly more questions than answers still, but in my opinion a hero is one who goes out of his/her way to help people for the better, protect their values, and make a difference in society.

What are your thoughts?

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