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The term hero comes from the ancient Greeks, a mortal who had done something so far beyond the normal scope of human experience that he left an everlasting memory behind him when he died. In return received admiration as if worshipping the gods. Many of these past history first heroes were great benefactors to all people: Hercules, the monster destroyer. Asclepius, the first medical practitioner. Dionysus, the creator of Greek fraternities. Then we had people who committed infamous crimes but were also called heroes, such as Oedipus and Medea. They received divine worship after their deaths as well. Not all heroes were necessarily good, but they were always unimaginable.
To be a hero was is to expose a sense of what was capable for a human being. Now days it is much more difficult to grasp the idea of heroism from morality; we only call heroes those who we wish to emulate and admire. Such as Dewayne The Rock Johnson. Yet still the idea stands that original link to possibility. Everyone needs a hero first and foremost because heroes help define the limits of our imagination. We greatly define our ideals by the heroes we idol, and our ideals. Things such as courage, honor, and justice greatly define us. Our heroes are symbols for us of all races, religious, and different cultural back grounds. We would like to possess and satisfy all the ambitions.
A person who chooses Susan B. Anthony or Martin Luther King as a idol is going to have a very different sense of what human excellence involves than someone who chooses, say, 50 Cent or Paris Hilton. And because the ideals to which we idol do so much to decide the ways in which we act, we all have a great interest in each person having a hero, and in the choice of heroes each of us make. It is so paramount for us as a society, globally and locally, to try to configure these choices. Of course, this is a perpetual moral issue, but there are warning indications that we need to concentrate our attention on the matter now. Years ago the organizers of the Barron Prize for Young Heroes tallied American teens and found that about only half could name a personal hero or role model. Superman and Spiderman were named more than twice as often as Lincoln, Martin Luther King, or Gandhi.
It is very evident that our media make it all too easy for us to misinterpret celebrity with supremacy; of the students who gave an answer, more than half named an athlete, a movie star, or a musician. One in ten named winners on American Idol as heroes. The vital moral contribution of heroes is the enlargement of our sense of potential. As Thoreau said” live lives of quiet desperation”. Our imagination of possibility is just not immense as it should be. Heroes can help us lift our eyes a little higher and achieve goals we thought were once to difficult to accomplish. Immanuel Kant said that “from the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.” That may well be true and yet some have used that warped, knotted timber to construct a more impactful and gorgeous than others, and we may all profit by their paradigm. Heaven knows we need those examples now.
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