Hero Or Zero (2)
Hero Or Zero? (2)
Given that one person’s definition of a hero can differ to the next, the idea of a hero is murkier than it first appears. If we accept a hero as being someone who stands up for what is right (and I mean for the common good of others and a selfless, non-profit, non-glory seeking way) then I accept the definition.
I wrote previously about people in history who far from profiting from their principles actually faced persecution or even death. Even non-believers of the Christian creed cannot deny the historical evidence that points to the first disciples paying for their beliefs with their lives. Others too have paid the ultimate sacrifice for standing firm, but again definitions of heroism are blurred.
I spent a lot of time studying WW1 during my time at university, both historically and philosophically. There is no doubt I would have fallen into the category of coward in the trenches. I live near Richmond, North Yorkshire and history shows the miserable treatment conscientious objectors suffered as a result of standing up and being counted for their beliefs. Others, maybe too frightened to refuse the Kings Shilling were ultimately shot by their own officers for ‘cowardice’ and to this comment I add the ‘Turkey Shoot’ the German machine gunners were offered as wave after wave of infantrymen were offered up as target practice. I will not libel or slander the noble VC, but what price the person who refuses and stands by what is right or at least what they totally believe is right?
Another form of ‘hero’ is that which is often formed in childhood or adolescence. I refer to the somewhat more cellophane hero of say, pop star or broadcaster, presenter and celebrity. My youth was torn apart when such vile monsters as Jimmy Saville and Gary Glitter were exposed as predators who made a public persona as fun people, only to be revealed later as evil men. I used to love listening to the radio commentaries of Stuart Hall during football matches. He was a wordsmith of the highest quality; yet he too had a dark world of shame to reveal. I could rant on, but the purpose of this paragraph is to question the idea or hero or at least icon, which moves in much the same direction.
I must be careful not to grade or rank misdoings, but take the politician who smoked Pot in their youth, but gave back in true public service in later life or even let’s say an unscrupulous businessman who later sees the light and gives back to others with interest. Do we mark them up as heroes or do we tear them down and fail to forgive them for their past?
I have a friend who is seventy three now. He went to prison five times for crimes against society in his younger days; stealing mostly and never violent crime, but crime none the less. Now he tours the country giving talks about compulsive gambling and warning others. He has truly turned his back on his past, but will some forgive him; moreover would they use the word ‘Hero’?
In recent years the film and tv industries have tried to build in a flaw in their ‘superhero’ characters. True, these characters are fantasy creations and a form of escapism. Their previously squeaky clean upstanding morals have been muddied by some of the more realistic ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ moral dilemmas.
We crave heroes and yet when they turn out to be flawed we tear them down in an instant. What is a real hero? YOU decide.