• J Putnam

Bring Back Our Dead Heroes

When Nietzsche cried out that God was dead, the world cried out with him. No longer able to find common ground as there was no longer a unifying faith or paradigm of goodness, society descended into a spiral of moral ambiguity.

I stand here with the same heartbreaking truth about our heroes. They are all dead, and we are the ones who have struck the killing blow. Gone is the age of exemplary measure as it has been replaced with the idolization of the mediocre, just barely doing enough to live an uninteresting life.

If you look at any of the modern comic book heroes that have made their way onto the big screen, you will notice that each of them has their own thing. Their own attribute or virtue that has been blown up to epic proportions as a way to differentiate themselves from all the others.

Take Captain America, for example. He stands as the beacon of truth and goodness and integrity. He embodies the virtues to a comical (no pun intended) and unrealistic extent. Ordinary people like you and I don't stand a chance of ever being able to live up to such measure of virtuosity. We can't because we're just human, after all.

The problem is that we as a society have decided that because this unreachable star, this idealism isn't possible for us to attain that we shouldn't even try to emulate it. Cap's strength is another attribute blown to an epic size that no one will really ever be able to achieve for themselves, and again, because of this, society, for the most part, has dismissed the value of strength altogether.

If you followed the movies, you would notice an evolution of Cap's character and behavior as time went by that brought him back down to earth. He was given more flaws and angsty vibes as time went by. He was made more human and, therefore, more relatable.

But we don't need our heroes to be relatable. We need them to be perfect Gods. Their extreme virtues and attributes were put there to inspire us to try to become as much like them as possible. To strive to embody their character and merit as much as possible from the outside will seem like a Sisyphean feat.

Everyone knows that's their chances of becoming the best and greatest there ever was or will be are pretty slim, but that shouldn't be an excuse for us to abandon the pursuit of greatness. Every man who has ever watched an action film has always imagined himself as the hero of the story and wonder whether he could live up to such an ideal.

As boys, we turn sticks into swords as we engaged some mythical enemy in mutual combat right there in our front yards. We battled imaginary monsters in our minds because being a hero was something to aspire to. We knew that it wasn't real, but that wasn't the point. It made us feel like being great was achievable and made us proudly puff out our chests.

We could do with some more chest-puffing from men in today's society. Instead of this nihilistic nightmare, we as men need to dream of greatness once again. We need to resurrect the dead heroes and deify them once again. These sub-average people that we have lauded as heroes for doing average things can't inspire us the way that we need to be inspired. These people have killed the heroes because the very sight cast a light on their shortcomings, and they were found wanting.

Instead of applauding these people for barely making it, we need to have something higher to look up to, some greater paradigm that we can hope to emulate. Heroes aren't supposed to be flawed. They are supposed to be perfect and mythical, and legendary. Giving them flaws makes them human and relatable to ourselves, which only works to make us feel better about our own shortcomings instead of overcoming them.

This makes it sound like we need to have unrealistic aspirations and dreams because we DO. That's exactly what I'm saying. We need these mythical Gods of virtue to stand above all of us as an example of what we should at the very least try to become even if we never will. The world looks dark today because with the heroes having been made human and killed, there is no beacon of hope and light anywhere to be found.

But all is not lost. We, as men, have the opportunity now to bring those heroes back to life. To listen to the old stories of average men doing above average things. These are the things that inspire us, and these are what we need now more than ever.

Every man alive today knows that it is better to be strong than to be weak, to have integrity, than to not. We know that the hero is an ideal that we can never fully actualize, but that's ok. That isn't the point. The point is we need them to be something that we can't achieve because that sense of awe is what inspires us to try anyway.

We need to be inspired if we are to ever start to become great again, and it's time that we start inspiring others as well.

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