The Hero Phenomenon: My Kind of Hero
Heroes. People paid in glory, not gold, because we couldn’t afford them if we had to pay cash. In theory at least. In reality, it would be better said that they are paid in the satisfaction of knowing that they have survived, and that they have managed to live up to their own standards. Because in reality, few heroes receive hero’s welcomes, and if they do, fewer still manage not to overstay it.
The question to me has always been why do heroes do what they do, if not for glory or gold? Modern society features many heroes by necessity–those who can do no other than be heroic or face death, which we assume most people aren’t fond of. But there is that other kind of hero–the hero who is driven to heroism by some internal need. By their own conviction about right and wrong.
In the wake of Japan’s tsunami and the radiation leaking, I was fascinated by the will of those who went in to try to mitigate the radiation–knowing they would likely die or encounter radiation poisoning. That degree of self-sacrifice for a cause greater than oneself–what were their stories? I’m sure every person on those teams has their own reasons. But it’s such an uncommon phenomenon.
In my latest Writers Don’t Cry column, I dissect the different kinds of heroes by why they fight, how they fight, and how they win, and an attempt to better analyze the hero phenomenon, and found that my own views on the matter were fairly strong, if not necessarily mainstream.
Personally, I am drawn to the kinds of heroes that I want to believe, in a just and perfect world, would be rewarded. I want to believe that idealism and fighting for what is right is rewarded because I have strong beliefs and I want to fight for what is right. I want to believe that intelligence is more important than brute strength or unthinking will–that if I study hard, if I work hard, that I can learn enough to achieve whatever goals I have in life. And I want to believe that the will to continue on when it seems like all is lost, when you’ve been beaten down too many times to count, and when a lesser person would have given up–is rewarded. Because that is the speech I will give myself to make myself go the extra mile. That it is worth it. That the last mile is what makes all the difference.
What are you drawn to? What kind of heroism do you want to be rewarded?
Check out my Amazon article on how to create compelling characters here: So, You Want to Be a Hero