Heroism in society
Close your eyes and imagine a hero. Your mind creates this strong being, rather attractive, with a drive to be a protector. Is it possible that the illusion is not only coming from a movie screen but the myths we as a culture has passed down? A more recognizable mythological hero is Hercules. He shows not only what it takes to be an epic hero, but an average hero. In human culture regardless to race, size, economical status etc. a hero is expect to embody three factors; sacrifice, change in their self, and untimely change for the society they live in. These factors happen to be shared with heroes in mythology as well.
Of course as a society today we don’t expect you to cut off the head Medusa, but the sacrifice is admired we as a culture are fascinated with the “close to death” experience. What action movie doesn’t show the hero or “good guy” coming close to losing their life? We praise this factor. Outside of a movie screen, the same idea is laid out in reality, taking war for an example. The fact that our soldiers come close to death everyday for the freedom of the American people exhibits heroism. Persesus didn’t just cut off the head of Medusa but risked his life, for if he had looked into her eyes he would’ve been turned to stone.
As a culture praise tends not to be given without reason. We don’t admire Hercules for just risking his life while killing the Nemean lion for its skin. The risk was protecting the people. The lion was terrorizing the hills around Nema. As always, the hero is saving the people. Whether the heroic act is getting a cat out of tree, saving a family from burning building or fighting another army for the freedom of faces you’ll never meet, the purpose remains the same. It may go unseen sometimes but change in the heroes persona tends to occur. After facing these sacrifice characteristics change for the good. In Greek mythology this is known as finding your arte. Untimely this results in change for the society, “restoring the faith in society”. This is why heroism is important in culture. The people need to know that there is good in the world. In the New York Times a journalist explained why we as a culture need heroes. “I find Taplin's hypothesis quite interesting, and he does offer a few supports that are intriguing. He suggests that the epic heroes of our movies are "a welcome relief when we are afraid to confront our own inadequate responses." We are a "co-opted by our possessions." As happy consumers, we subscribe to an ideology of narcissism. We see ourselves as the Marlboro Man, the Virginia Slim lady, the individual idealized in a thousand ads. We thus become "heroic" through owning possessions. Although we become "identical individuals," such a road is easier to travel than the road a real hero must travel. In other words, we have ended up in "a society where the task of making the world a better place is left only to the hero--we abrogate our collective responsibility." We need heroes because they deliver justice. For example, after the Boston police department captures the Boston marathon bomber, crowds everywhere applauded the new country’s heroes. We need to believe that we live in a just world where good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. As long as we have this need, we’ll always have a desire for extraordinary people which we call heroes. They’re willing to step up and save the day.
Heroism from books to reality may not share the exact lay out but the moral remains the same. Though some things have changed, we don’t exactly look for the built guy wearing a cape. By definition a hero is “a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” We’ve accepted that heroes can be females as well. This is not really seen in myths. “A Georgia mom paid the ultimate price when her former marine husband attacked and killed her while reportedly drunk.”