Thoughts on Heros (part 1)

I put “part 1” in the title of the post because this is a topic I know I’m coming back to…

I’ve been MIA for a couple weeks but it’s for a good cause. My would be post from two weeks ago is well on it’s way to being a magazine article, and last week I missed due to being out with a couple big gentle puppies finding shiny rocks…

Now then, lately I’ve been thinking about heroes. I don’t necessarily mean the guys who go running into a burning building (though they could fit in). I definitely don’t mean the one’s you see on TV with scantily clad women and explosions behind them while a voice over says things like “watch this weeks episode!”. I mean personal heroes, the ones that you look at and say, “I want to be like him/her”.

Hero’s large and small appear in every culture I’ve ever met, and unless you have lived your life completely alone (and if you did how are you reading this?) you have someone you’ve tried to emulate at some point. Heroes serve as inspiration, as a rallying point, a gleam of hope and/or a goal to shoot for. Heroes help us to see and describe what we want to be.

But there are dangers in dealing with heroes.People do become disenchanted, cynical and sometimes downright unpleasant because of  hero problems. Among these problems there are three that have been on my mind: the unattainable hero, the poorly chosen or false hero, and the fallen hero.

The unattainable hero is a mental trap that we inflict on ourselves. We choose a hero that we want to be like, but then we tell ourselves we can’t be like them. Classic example here: the person that chooses a superhero as a hero then says, “but I can’t fly/shoot energy bolts/turn invisible/what ever, so why even try?” Solution: take some time and evaluate why and how you want to emulate this hero. Is it really the super power, or is it maybe that they are brave, witty or just willing to stand for something?

If it’s the super power we have a choice, decide the power isn’t achievable and choose another hero to emulate, or we can learn and find a way to emulate that power.  Sure, most of us cant fly by putting on spandex and jumping into the air, but what about getting a pilot’s license? Invisibility? Camouflage (I’ve met some snipers that might as well be invisible (seriously!))!

If it’s the brave/strong/witty/willing to stand for something part…You can do that without super powers. It does take courage (and maybe a gym membership) but you can do it.

The poorly chosen or false hero is a “hero” who wasn’t what you thought he or she was. Many times these are the “heroes” that looked like the hero you want, or someone else told you you wanted but they really aren’t. There is a preventative solution here, this is going to be your hero, you can take some time to decide. You don’t have to buy into a hero right away. And if you decide the “hero” isn’t someone that’s a hero for you (even if you’ve already chosen to call them a hero) you can choose someone else. Your life, your choice, your hero; nobody can take that from you.

The fallen hero is a slightly different form of the false hero. They do, or at least did, have traits you want to emulate. But then it happens, they make a mistake and disgrace themselves, or you learn they are human and have faults. This situation can really hurt, but there are options. You could drop the hero and find a new one. This can be painful, but sometimes it’s the best way to go (if the part you find offensive is really problematic). But wait! The hero does, or did, have one or more traits you want to emulate, so consider the “hero with an asterisk” model. You don’t have to emulate all the traits of a hero, and you can have more than one hero.

I hold George S Patton as a hero, he was personally brave and his men would follow him anywhere, but I don’t have to swear like he did. I hold Poe as a hero, he was a great and creative writer, but that doesn’t mean I have to get drunk and die in the streets.

Well dear reader, that’s my thought for today. Have heroes, it’s a good thing, but make sure you take time to choose the heroes you want to be like and not just someone that someone else says is cool. Realize that you can have a variety of heroes and model different parts of you life on different heroes. And if you find a hero doesn’t fit anymore, they’re your heroes, you can change them.

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