This paper posits to illustrate what it takes to be a hero. A hero may be defined as a person of distinguished ability or courage, admired for their brave performance as well as and noble qualities. In every sphere of life, there are different benchmarks that determine what makes a hero.
CONVENTIONAL HERO CONCEPT AND HEROIC NETWORKS
Nelson Mandela reminds us of the astuteness of the non-violent movement instigated by Gandhi. Such non-violent movements underscore the power of generating networks of persons who reject to repression by despotic governments. These are individuals who opt to stand up and protest against national policies founded on racist ideology. Ultimately, goodness conquers over executors of malevolence. Václav Havel provides another innovative model of liberation from repression. This evokes the Velvet Revolution motto that stipulates that, love and truth must triumph over hatred and lies. That same insight was apparent in the gallant whistle- blowing of Daniel Ellsberg, the American whom Henry Kissinger termed as the most treacherous person in America (Philip 402).
Daniel Ellsberg took the risk of a long jail term as a state conspirator. This was as a result of, revealing to the media, some high-level covert documents known as Pentagon Papers. Those yearly reports authored by U.S. military generals to every American President at the time, demonstrated that the Vietnamese war unwinnable, yet devoid of an appropriate exit strategy. However, every President continued to pursue the futile war, persuading the populace that it was certainly winnable. The brave and bold action by Ellsberg, hastened the conclusion to the Vietnamese War. Ellsberg’s actions also indirectly resulted in the downfall of President Richard Nixon. Nixon was compelled to resign over his responsibility in attempts to bring into disrepute Ellsberg’s allegations (Philip 404).
Heroes are found in numerous forms, old and young, female and male, who are more often than not ordinary, individuals whose acts of fearlessness meet the criteria of the extra-ordinary. The essential characteristics of heroism include: Intentional deeds in service to people in need, or to humankind by defending an honorable cause, conscious of prospective risks and individual costs (Sullivan 101).
Therefore, it is essential to democratize the concept of heroism clear of older opinions of the select few. These are people who appear to walk on immortal soil, and appear to be gifted with innate tremendous qualities. Any individual can be a hero at whatever time an occasion presents itself, to stand up in pursuit for what is just and right, and to speak out in protest against corruption, injustice, and related malevolence. Heroism can be taught, learned, modeled, and can also be a quality of character, to which all people should aspire (105).
Consequently, there is a need to defuse the perception of the solo hero, for instance, a military combatant who risks his life in war to rescue comrades. The rationale for defusing the perception of the solo hero is in order to; embrace the larger significance of heroic networks. When common people group together to resist systemic evil of every kind, they consequently become communal heroes. However, they would be comparatively impotent in the event that they act single-handedly. In comparison to reactive heroes who take action spontaneously in reaction to an emergency, for instance saving an individual who is drowning, the majority of whistle-blowers are usually pro-active heroes. The pro-active heroes recognize decadence that requires to be addressed, and characteristically engage other concurring people to support in the investigation, or to create a political action group. The Christians, who gave support to Jews for the period of the Holocaust, were triumphant when grouping in such networks. They were capable of moving the children as well as families from one place to another (Gibbon 25).
One outstanding case in point of such acts of heroism is evident in the mission of Irena Sendler, who was a Polish social worker. Irena Sendler worked industriously to save numerous Jewish families in the ghetto in Warsaw from annihilation. Through tricky means, she prearranged for the children to be accompanied out of the death camps to sanctuary. The network created by Sendler comprised of several Polish people. These were polish citizens, who jeopardized their lives to rescue innocent lives of foreigners. The network rescued the lives of no less than 2,500 children. In comparison, a Chinese boy of roughly nine years would be regarded as a reactive hero. This nine years old youngster saved lives through his speedy reaction to a disaster. A gigantic earthquake, just before the Beijing Olympics shattered Lin Hao’s classroom in the Szechuan province of China. As Lin Hao was escaping the damaged classroom, he became aware of two students who were struggling beneath the wreckage. He ran back to rescue their lives. Afterwards, when the youngster was asked why he took such a risk, he responded assuredly that he was the hall monitor. He explained that it was his responsibility to take care of his classmates. This illustrates a devoted hero in action (Philip 407).
Heroic Imagination and the Psychology of Liberation. The time is due to create and benefit from a novel psychology of liberation. This entails a compassionate rallying call, in resisting each and every one of those forces within and without every individual, which weakens the potentiality for human excellence. It is a provocation to bond in a universal population that supports the forces that would strengthen the relationships of the human state-of-affairs. This would start with peace, justice, and love. Ultimately, it is evident that, all people have the capacity to make a difference. This would be in improving the state-of-affairs of the human race through acts of benevolence, munificence of spirit, and a vision that at all times endeavors to make other people feel unique, and worthwhile. It also entails making other people feel embraced, and appreciated as fellow kin, particularly when such people are not our kind (Gibbon 45).
The inner quality that a hero such as, Martin Luther King, Jr, Václav Havel, Irena Sendler, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Daniel Ellsberg, as well as others, that differentiates them from their non-hero peers is the power of heroic imagination. This is a unique frame of mind that should be internalized and employed, to crystallize values and beliefs into social and political deed. Such a standpoint, enables people when faced with diverse situational forces that make them feel defenseless, to rise beyond and above those limitations. Subsequently, they would gain power to act nobly and wisely as effective ordinary heroes. The heroic imagination attains action force by means of strengthening the sense of moral audacity. The modus operandi for heroism would be: Heroic imagination in addition to moral courage that results in the enthusiasm and capacity to confront evil in each and every one its numerous structures, challenging inhumanity, injustice, corruption, and indifference.
Philip, Z. ‘Why the World Needs Heroes’, Europe’s Journal of Psychology 7.3 (2009): pp. 402- 407. Print.
Gibbon, R. A Call to Heroism: Renewing America’s Vision of Greatness, Cambridge: Grove Press. 2011. Print.
Sullivan, W. ‘The Hero Within: Inclusion of Heroes into the Self’, Self and Identity 4.2 (2000): pp.101–111. Print.
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