Heroes are part of our cultural lexicon. They are depicted as the strong and brave who keep us safe from danger. They are heroes for a variety of reasons. In films they are the strong and silent good guys battling bad guys with guns, punches, or superior intellect. In comics they are the superpowered fighters with mystical powers and abilities. In cartoons, they are the beloved young heroes that we all love to hate.
So why do we love to hate heroes? The answer lies in the fact that heroes challenge our assumptions about what it means to be a human being. For example, if we believe that people are either good or evil, heroes offer an alternative to the dilemma. For example, if we believe that some people are just stupid, greedy, conniving, and want to make us suffer, then villains are the ideal solution. On the other hand, if we believe that people are honest, kind, and are simply motivated by what they think is best for humankind, then heroes are the ideal definition. We simply don’t know how to define these qualities so we create characters that are not quite human, but somehow possess those essential traits.
Most of us have at least one defining characteristic – we have a deep and abiding love for heroes. Whether we like it or not, we admire heroes. And whether we think they are good or evil, heroes always find a way to be the hero. Whether they decide to act heroically or not, heroes always find a way to make us proud.
So why, then, can’t we be just like heroes? Well, researchers suggest there are at least two reasons why we can’t. First, we have a deep love for the idea of heroes, so we resist the realization that in order to do what’s right, we ourselves need to act as heroes.
The second reason we resist the idea of heroes is that we are taught from childhood to use our courage rather than our imagination. Since imagination is only useful for things that can’t actually happen, the idea of acting on your own and using your imagination in order to overcome fear seems preposterous to us. This is one reason why many people fail to achieve real world heroism – they don’t understand the importance of imagination or how it is used in the real world. It’s important to realize that being a hero isn’t about winning popularity with a group of people; being a hero is about standing up for something that you believe in. You need to step outside of your comfort zone in order to achieve heroic realism.
Finally, many people are afraid of being vulnerable, which is another reason why they can’t really commit to being a heroic figure. In order to be a heroic figure, you have to take risks. Real heroes are willing to sacrifice themselves for others. If you’re scared of putting yourself in danger, you can’t truly claim to be a hero. This is why the best heroes are those who never shy away from risk, and who accept that being a hero means facing danger head-on, without fear of failure.