The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Bit of Heroism

Someone challenged me the other day to blog about a certain kind of hero. This was in a comment thread in response to a another blog on the subject of heroes and heroism. The author of that blog, Andreas Kluth, is a very smart and educated (and accomplished) man. He writes his blog in such a way as to stimulate the reader comment. Without actually asking it, he posed a question about who were, in the readers' opinions, the greatest heroes.

http://andreaskluth.org/2009/12/05/new-thread-heroes-and-heroism/

I don't know if this was his intent but it seemed to be the result. The commentary was long, it reached triple digits, and it was diverse. In that commentary, the definition of hero became a topic. Different people were offered as examples; Churchill, some obscure (to me) historical figures, some classical examples from Greek, Roman, and other ancient cultures. The attributes of the hero were considered. And, of course, I tended to overwhelm the discussion and eventually ran everyone off.

But some things were left out of the discussion, some considerations weren't brought up and the discussion wasn't really complete. I posed a question toward the end (because the discussion had really gone off on several tangents)... I wondered if there were any heroes who were atheists?

And though I have an opinion on this (with way too much reasoning and explanation behind it, all very boring), I would much rather read your opinions on this and other aspects of heroism, hero worship, and heroes in general.
  • What is a hero?
  • Are there contemporary heroes?
  • Are the heroes you now revere the same as the ones you had when you were a child?
  • Are heroes always heroic or is it a sometimes thing?
  • Are heroes a good or a bad thing?

That's just some of the questions that come to my own mind when I read or hear the term "hero." Each of which might prompt a blog of its own... or just a comment or two.

9 comments:

The Jules said...

Is a hero brave, or someone who can overcome crippling fear to achieve something?

I think the latter.

Contemporary heroes? Probably quite a few fighting in the Middle East at the mo.

I've always been a fan of David Attenborough, so I suppose he is a bit of a hero of mine, both as a kid and now.

A heroic act is heroic for all their life, which is why we venerated Harry Patch.

Good or bad? Is it bad that we need them? I think it shows us what people are capable of, and so is a good thing.

Nice post.

Pearl said...

A hero overcomes his own fear because he must -- and does.

Heroes today? Absolutely. There are people rushing into burning buidlings, stepping forward to claim responsibility, and doing what must be done as we speak.

Heroes from childhood? I adored Abraham Lincoln, Audie Murphy, and still do.

I think heroism requires a catalyst, but I believe the seeds of heroism lie dormant in some people -- not all. I do believe there are heroes among us who have not been called upon to act, just as I believe there are people among us who are, so far, undetected as cowardly or selfish.

Heroes are a good thing, but I think the word's been bandied about a bit too much. Like the word "miracle" or "awesome", it's been waylaid by multiple ad campaigns.

Pearl

andreaskluth said...

First, I'm just thrilled that I made you think with my post.

Personally, I have no idea yet what heroism is, which is why I embarked on this thread (series of posts) on heroes. By next year I might have an opinion. ;)

But you raised a point about atheism and heroism.

I happen to be an atheist who wears his opinions discreetly in order not to offend others.

So my inclination is to say that there is no link whatsoever between atheism or theism and either morality in general or heroism in particular.

Douglas said...

Jules, you make a great point. We all get afraid. The hero acts in spite of the fear.

Pearl, thank you for bringing Audie Murphy. Oddly, I do not think of firemen and policemen as heroes. They chose those jobs and facing danger is a part of that job. Same with the military. It is admirable work but they aren't heroes though there are heroes among them.

Andreas, most everything you write makes me think. The one thing I do most is to think. Not always clearly and not always correctly but I think about everything.
I used to play down my atheism also. I may blog about that sometime; why and how I did it. But now I don't. I mention it as a matter of course. If someone asks, if someone brings up the subject, if it is within the context of the conversation. I do not push it on people, I do not throw it in their faces. It is simply an important part of who I am. Morals and ethics are not solely the property of religion, they are a part of culture and we are all programmed to accept and revere the morals and ethics of the cultures within which we live.

Anonymous said...

hello douglas,

thanks for taking up the gauntlet. you did not chase anyone away. they simply disengage when the topic no longer holds interest.

as andreas says "there is no link whatsoever between atheism or theism and either morality in general or heroism in particular." (although i would have to say there is a moral imperative in the definition of "hero" if not a "biological" one)

i was myself surprised when a more educated friend than myself explained that some (ignorant) people associate atheism with immoral behavior?!

i know this is as much of a public forum as andreas blog so i understand why you did not go in length as to atheist heros - but i am sure there are many.

i would be interested in your reasoning.

dafna

Anonymous said...

hello douglas,

thanks for taking up the gauntlet. you did not chase anyone away. they simply disengage when the topic no longer holds interest.

as andreas says "there is no link whatsoever between atheism or theism and either morality in general or heroism in particular." (although i would have to say there is a moral imperative in the definition of "hero" if not a "biological" one)

i was myself surprised when a more educated friend than myself explained that some (ignorant) people associate atheism with immoral behavior?!

i know this is as much of a public forum as andreas blog so i understand why you did not go in length as to atheist heros - but i am sure there are many.

i would be interested in your reasoning.

dafna

andreaskluth said...

First, I'm just thrilled that I made you think with my post.

Personally, I have no idea yet what heroism is, which is why I embarked on this thread (series of posts) on heroes. By next year I might have an opinion. ;)

But you raised a point about atheism and heroism.

I happen to be an atheist who wears his opinions discreetly in order not to offend others.

So my inclination is to say that there is no link whatsoever between atheism or theism and either morality in general or heroism in particular.

Pearl said...

A hero overcomes his own fear because he must -- and does.

Heroes today? Absolutely. There are people rushing into burning buidlings, stepping forward to claim responsibility, and doing what must be done as we speak.

Heroes from childhood? I adored Abraham Lincoln, Audie Murphy, and still do.

I think heroism requires a catalyst, but I believe the seeds of heroism lie dormant in some people -- not all. I do believe there are heroes among us who have not been called upon to act, just as I believe there are people among us who are, so far, undetected as cowardly or selfish.

Heroes are a good thing, but I think the word's been bandied about a bit too much. Like the word "miracle" or "awesome", it's been waylaid by multiple ad campaigns.

Pearl

The Jules said...

Is a hero brave, or someone who can overcome crippling fear to achieve something?

I think the latter.

Contemporary heroes? Probably quite a few fighting in the Middle East at the mo.

I've always been a fan of David Attenborough, so I suppose he is a bit of a hero of mine, both as a kid and now.

A heroic act is heroic for all their life, which is why we venerated Harry Patch.

Good or bad? Is it bad that we need them? I think it shows us what people are capable of, and so is a good thing.

Nice post.