The World Needs Heroes

It’s super bowl Sunday. My social media feed is filled with trash talk, selfies in shirts and jerseys and lots of hope. Eventually it will end and there will be more memes, more celebratory posts and endless debate. In the end there will be a winner and a loser. At last there will be a parade, interviews and probably a documentary about the game. Some will claim they don’t care at all, others will talk about it to their grandchildren one day. For me, it is proof of one very clear theme in human existence. We need heroes.

I saw a post about how athletes make too much money along with artists and other entertainers. In reality that’s all sports is; entertainment. And yes, millions upon millions of dollars will be spent and made for this single event and for others like it. And some will complain at the waste and how entertainment isn’t necessary and yet, perhaps it is.

Athletes, after all, do things I cannot. I cannot perform the physical feats they do. My body is not strong enough, fast enough, big enough or lithe enough to compete like they do. Sure, I can play the game. I can actually run and catch and even throw, but not like them. And we love to see people do things we can’t. We love to marvel and even worship mortals like us who are better. Maybe it gives us a sense that we too can do those amazing things since after all, we are human like them. Or maybe, it allows us to live some moments of glory along with them by wearing their jersey and watching them perform. We feel their pain and we feel their joy and we are drawn to it somehow.

There is something deep in us that desires glory. It’s why we love sports. It’s why we love stories and it’s why some of us (myself included) love to be the hero in videos games and the like. We want to believe that we too are capable of glory and conquest. We want to believe that we are heroes just like the men on the TV battling for the super bowl championship. We can be heroes. We can be champions.

Good luck in battle today men. We will all be watching and cheering you on. May you find glory and may we enjoy it with you that we might forget for a moment that we are mortal. Cheers.

Heroes

One of the most important aspects of a good story is the hero. Without a main character to follow and cheer for, it is difficult to connect with the story. We need to see someone embroiled in the midst of conflict and will them on toward victory. It’s a simple drive but also a powerful one.

This is partially why I’m drawn to fantasy as a genre. It allows, no it demands, epic heroes. These heroes usually find themselves up against tremendous odds and we hold our breath as we pour through the pages of a story to find whether they prevailed or not. But why?

It seems to me that we are drawn to this type of story telling because in our own lives, even in 21 century America, we have similar struggles. Maybe it isn’t about King John taxing people to death, but maybe the mortgage is difficult to pay. Maybe it isn’t about Sauron trying to rule them all with the one ring, but perhaps your ex is trying to ruin you. And maybe there are no real ogres in your world, but your boss is a huge jerk and is making your life very difficult. We all have monsters in our world, and injustice is still common and our own struggle to prosper is real. So we champion heroes because often times we need one in our own lives or we want to be a hero in our own story.

This is a common phrase I’ve heard lately. “You are the hero of your own story.” If that’s true then just like heroes in other stories, we’re flawed and we fail. We are often brought down by the weight of our circumstances and the consequences of our own poor decision making. Those are not always small things mind you. Few things seem to derail me more than fear of my own failure. But like our heroes, we have to push that fear aside and strive for victory. Only then can we hold our heads up high and fist to the sky and declare that we overcame the evil that blocked our path to joy, happiness and prosperity.

Be a hero.