Without heroes, life would be very boring. As a matter of fact, most of the world’s great events that we celebrate each day were either triggered by a small group of individuals, or by the collective action of many. If there were no heroes, then what would be the point? Unfortunately, this is how things work in the real world. Many people choose to ignore the truth, because they are afraid of being labeled as a “heel.” While it’s true that most heel people are usually nothing more than human dregs, we often overlook those who are really doing something extraordinary, and therefore deserve our respect and admiration.
According to one recent study, researchers at the University of Zurich have discovered that those who had only recently engaged in one-of-a-kind acts of heroism (i.e., rushing into a blazing fire or rescuing someone in the path of an approaching train) aren’t necessarily much different from control groups of normal, non-heel people. The group of control people didn’t demonstrate any significant increase in heart rate or stress hormone levels, according to results published in the March 2021 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Associations. The research confirms previous research that demonstrated that being a heroic soul can have only temporary benefits; even more so, the researchers argue, if it is done in the heat of the moment.
So, what is it about heroes that make us want to be around them? According to some researchers, it’s all about overcoming fear. Others think that heroes inspire us with courage to follow our dreams. Still others believe that heroes motivate us to do great acts for public good. Still yet, the greatest reason why we admire and love heroes is because of the incredible power they possess over us.
Just consider how easily heroes affect us. For instance, look at what happened to Richard Jordan, a decorated World War II Air Force fighter plane pilot who flew almost 25 combat missions. After the war, he was awarded a Purple Heart medal, the third-highest award for valor. As a result, he never turned back from his lifelong dream of becoming a fighter pilot and jumping into a fighter plane to fly outposts over the Middle East. Richard Jordan’s courage inspired other veterans to pursue their own dream of flying planes as well.
According to Richard Jordan’s biographer, Jack Trellis, “No one ever made a bigger impression on Richard Jordan than the fact that he could make himself happy.” That’s exactly what heroes do: They create meaning out of everything and achieve a state of happiness that comes from living life to the fullest. Our own personal heroes could be figure skating, professional wrestlers, or movie stars; but in all cases, what defines our heroes is our ability to feel a sense of gratitude to our heroes for the sacrifices they’ve made for us.
When Achilles rises from being buried by the clay, breaking his leg, he doesn’t think about the fact that he might lose his arm. Instead, he just chooses to live, fighting to the death, even when his left leg has been shattered and he cannot walk. We should be more concerned with how our contemporary heroes deal with obstacles. After all, we are all confronted with various types of hardships. So instead of worrying about whether a classical hero can save the day (as some might mistakenly believe), maybe we should focus more on the way classical heroes resolve the problems they face rather than the way they suffer.