Most of us don’t have heroes anymore.
That can make it hard to rest and sleep.
The lack of heroes keeps us up at night because, at its core, a hero or heroine is an example for you to follow. A hero is a leader and more. A leader is someone in a certain position. A hero is a leader on a pedestal. The hero is really shining in the leadership role.
Like a sweet memory you gradually forget, heroes disappeared little by little sometime between 1973 and the mid-1980s. It’s hard to say when exactly. The lack was on a lot of minds. There were a lot of songs written back then and since about the lack. Forward-thinking academics like Mark Gerzon struggled to redefine heroes for the 1980s and beyond with mixed success.
By 1988, we had a major motion picture positing Jesus was less of a hero, more of a regular man. Heroes were definitely gone by then if a major movie like that could get made.
By now, in 2019, the notion of a hero, like chivalry, is positively quaint.
In popular, mass culture, in 1973 on the Brady Bunch, the character Bobby told his friends that he knew Joe Namath. The boy faked an illness to get the famous quarterback, his hero, to visit him.
In the old days, people weren’t perfect then either. The media would help athletes, politicians, and others keep up the appearance. It was considered the right thing to do.
Around the time Bobby on the Brady Bunch was lionizing Broadway Joe, the Washington Post and the Watergate scandal was bringing the president down. That was a turning point for politicians at least.
Journalists were the heroes for a while during the 70s. My journalism professors used to speak fondly of those days when many of them were in the middle of their newsroom careers.
Something had happened over time. The press had, after all, looked the other way when John F. Kennedy had his extramarital affairs.
Bill Clinton, on the other hand, couldn’t catch a break.
By 1981 Gene Simmons of Kiss was mournfully singing about A World Without Heroes.
A world without heroes
Is like a world without sun
You can’t look up to anyone…
Simmons compares the lack to a race that doesn’t end.
It’s like a time, without a place
A pointless thing
Devoid of grace.
Where you don’t know what you’re after
Or if something’s after you
And you don’t know why you don’t know.
Sure, Gene Simmons and other rock stars, in general, don’t have wholesome reputations. In the 70s and 80s, Kiss was beloved by a generation of young boys. It probably weighed on his mind. And that’s exactly what keeps our mind whirring long past bedtime.
The mantle of being a hero is too great for modern people. Maybe we know too much. A certain naivete has disappeared.
When I was growing up in the 1970s my Boy Scout Handbook encouraged me to identify with great men. Some great men it cited were Walter Reed, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Samuel Gompers, Henry Ford, and Walter Reuther. Every one of those men had their flaws, of course. Do we really think people have to be perfect today? Were they better than we are at looking away at the imperfections?
Either way, once we realize what we’re lacking, we can do something about.
You can stop holding your heroes to such high standards. You can accept that nobody is perfect and you can choose to imitate the best in some pretty good people.
If you give others a break — and that includes our ancestors — you’re more likely to give yourself a break.
A hero is a model, an example for you to follow when life gets crazy. When you feel buffeted by forces beyond your control, you can imagine yourself as a skillful pilot bringing your situation in for a landing.
You can imagine yourself as a skillful trucker guiding the rig between the pylons.
The ship’s captain with a steady hand at the helm.
You’re not going to let your vehicle crash or drown. You’ve got this.
If you can’t look up to anyone in particular, look to an archetype.
What do you think? Do you still have heroes? Do you think others do? What are the positives and negatives of this?
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