Why Do People Need Heroes Essay, Research Paper
Why Do People Need Heroes
The hero is the man – rarely the woman – who inspires children and adults, and reflects the finest qualities of man even if the stories are fantasy. He is recognized as an inspiration, seen as someone engendering man’s best qualities. It is not that the hero represents most if not all men; it is that most, if not all men are happy to have him as their representative (Britannica). Heroes are very important and necessary symbols of the hopes and dreams of man. Heroes are not gods. They are flesh and blood. But when the test comes, heroes react in extraordinary ways, often rising above the ordinary and surpassing the expected. Heroes inspire, because they dream bigger, they reach higher, and they are able to endure longer.
Heroes should be watched and seen in order to be understood. Real heroes are not always super human. They are sometimes the guy sitting on the bus or living next door. Heroes are not born. Circumstances often make heroes out of ordinary men found performing heroic acts. Police officers and fire fighters, federal agents and everyday people are regularly commended for committing acts above and beyond the call of duty. Heroes are necessary because they set standards and reinforce societal values.
Some heroes become legends, such as Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett. Time has made their exploits bigger than life. Davy Crockett did not kill a bear when he was only three as the song says, but the embellishment gives the story color and makes people feel good about their hero (Shenkman and Kurt, pg.62). People are willing to accept this imformation that is so obviously not true because they need to believe that there are real heroes. If another man has done heroic acts, then it is not so far fetched to believe thathe would also act accordingly. No one wants to believe that he would be a coward in the face of danger. The ability to face their fears and do the brave thing is a quality that everyone admires in another human being.
Mythical heroes like Superman or Batman have super human powers, including super strength, the ability to fly or the ability to face danger and overcome the bad guy. These larger than life heroes are liked because they let men dream and live out their fantasies. People can listen to these stories and become that hero in their imaginations. They can tell the stories to their children and give their children something to reach for. Without dreams, man becomes stagnant. If man believes that the possibility of becoming a hero is a reachable dream then he has something to strive for life becomes more bearable.
Heroes such as Albert Einstein, Neil Armstrong, Abe Lincoln. George Washington, Charles Goodnight, Louis and Clark, Mark Twain, Franklin Delano Roosevelt are the real heros of the world. These men went beyond what other men would have with their exploring, writings, and inventions. Their influence made a difference in many lives. Man still can benefit from the influence of these men.
Sometimes heroes are sports figures like Michael Jordan, whose claim to fam is to play basketball his very best. Basically, heroes are just people who are looked up to and idealized by someone. Criminals such as Billy the Kid, a famous gun fighter, or Bonnie and Clyde, famous bank robbers, can be heroes. Just having a fast gun could make a man a hero if he killed enough people. Usually this was just luck and a faster gun always came along. Frank and Jessie James were heroes because they robbed trains and never hurt anyone. This fact alone made them heroes in some peoples’ eyes and to the many children that wanted to be like them. These bad guys have qualities that are admired by others. They fought the establishment just as other heroes have done but they did it more for their own benefit than for the benefit of others.
It is not often that men will make a hero of a robber, but Robin Hood somehow seems different, Everybody knows it is wrong to steal, yet Robin Hood is admired. The reason is that he stole from the rich and gave to the poor. He was supposed to have lived in the twelfth century but history does not tell if he was real or fictional. People of that time loved chivalry and archery. Robin Hood pleased them in both so they built a legend around him. They made him a great sportsman, a wonderful archer and a lover of the woods where he lived (Law, pg.112). Robin Hood had a quality that men admire. He cared more for the needs of others than he did for obeying the law.
People tend to think of men when they think hero but there are many heroines as well. Women’s strength and perseverance has always been vital in history. The stories of women have traditionally been left out of the history books. Many women have done amazing things that qualify them as heroines.
Women such as Sojourner Truth, an African-American slave, who was a leader in the anti-slavery and women’s right movements or Valentina Tereshkova, a Soviet astronaut, and the first woman in space are true heroines. Joan of Arc, who tried to protect France, was burned at the stake because she was feared for her courage. Many believed that Charles Vll made no effort to save her because he was embarrassed that France’s victory was won by a peasant girl. It took almost 500 years, but finally, in 1920, Joan was declared a saint by the Roman Catholic Church (Weldon, pg.73)
Louis and Clark were heroes in their own right. When the Naz Perce tribe planned to kill the entire expedition, it was Sacagawea, a young Shoshone girl, who persuaded them that the expedition was peaceful. She told them that if they were a war party they would not have taken along a girl and her baby (Perl, pg.54).
Mother Teresa was a heroine who was respected and loved by rich and poor, young and old in every corner of the world. She won the Nobel Peace Prize, India’s Padma Shri award, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize, the Jewel of India award, and many other awards and honors. Her work with lepers and people with severe disabilities spread around the entire world, She is a great example of a hero (Law, pg.457.
Tragedy can make a hero as in the case of Anne Frank. The Nazis were never able to crush her spirit. Her diaries are a treasured record of her life as a Jewish girl during the Holocaust. She never would have thought of herself as a hero but when her diaries are read what she had to endure made her a hero in the real sense (Weldon, pg.82). These women have made as much an impact in history as any man could have.
Today the world stands short on heroes such as described. Mankind has very few worlds left to conquer. The media picks today’s heroes. They glamorize the lives of sports players and people see themselves in these men. People want to be able to accomplish what they do and live the lives they are living. Everyone is watching, wishing they could be like their heroes. At heart everyone wants to be a hero, but few can accomplish the deed in a way that will leave a mark on the world.
A hero can be many things to many people. It is clear that everyone needs a hero in their life. Whether it is their father, mother, aunt, uncle or someone that is famous. The choice of a hero can shape a person’s personality and affect the way that person relates to other people. Heroes not only leave their mark on the world but on the people around them. They come out of every period of history and they are still happening today. Heroes reflect the way man views himself and his accomplishments. Man may fail but heroes never do. They give hope to all mankind.
“Encyclopedia of Britannica. 15th edition., Vol.5, Chicago, 1993 ed.
Law, Jonathan.Ed. 1000 Great Lives. New york: Carroll & Graf, 1996.
Perl, Lila. It Happened in America. Henry Holt and Company: New York, 1992
Shenkman, Richard, and Reiger, Kurt. One-Night Stands With American History. New York: Quill, 1982
Weldon, Amelie. Girls Who Rocked the World. Beyond Words Pub.Inc.,Hillsboro, Oregon,1998.
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