Note: Unlike most posts, this post is more of a brain dump, in which my thoughts are just swirling around in my head and I just need to write them down. Usually I do a lot more to organize it, but in this case, because I don’t really have a conclusion, I just want to give a bit of a glimpse of how I think/write. Note: this was written a few months ago.
What makes someone a hero, or something heroic? After a really good book discussion earlier tonight, I came up with Four key things to look at:
- What was done
- How it was done
- Why it was done
- The scenario (when, where, & who) that it was done in
Each of these can be used as a reason for something to be heroic or not heroic. For example if someone were to save a planet from destruction he would be called heroic. This would be an example of the What. However, someone who saved the planet but did it by completely annihilating another planet would have done something great (he saved the country), but the way he did it (the How) was awful. Does he still deserve to be called a hero? Also, if there was no other way to save his own planet without destroying the other planet (which may have been trying to destroy his planet), does the Scenario justify the How?
What if someone saves a planet (What) by doing (How) nothing but that which would be considered “good” by the average person. He would again be called a hero. But if the reason he did it was purely for self gain (Why), would he truly be a hero inside? Would the reason that he did good outweigh the good that he did, at least in an eternal perspective, or when looking for a role model? What if someone kills someone but did it to save his family? Would the Why outweigh the What? Many people seem to think along this line, but it can be harder to determine than it seems
For example, I once heard/read that no villain thinks himself the villain. While there are of course many exceptions, what if someone destroys an innocent planet (What) with no provocation (Scenario), but does so because he believes it is the best thing to do? What if Hitler thought that he was doing the world a favor (which, I hear, he may actually have thought)? The Why may be good intentions, but does it outweigh the What? I don’t know. I simply don’t know.
More about the other things. If you do something good (What), but in a terrible way (How), which is more important, the How or the What? Does the end justify the means? What if you do something awful, but the way that you do it is really good (for example, drive a government/nation into bankruptcy by giving food to the poor)? Do the means justify the end?
Another thing: At what point does the How become the What? After all, Every single “How”, if taken individually, becomes a “What”. If only the What counts, what if you don’t finish the What and are left halfway through the How? If the How is good but the end was bad, then now you managed to do a good thing without the bad results (gave food to the poor without driving the government/nation into bankruptcy). However, if the How is bad and the end was good, and you get stopped before it’s finished, then now you’re stuck with having done something bad without getting the good results you were looking for.
So is the What the end of the process, meanwhile the How anything before that? As hinted at before, how do you know when to stop the clock and check whether the result is good or bad? What if you accomplish a good What, but it’s only good for a short period which becomes the cause for something really bad to happen? Does the What suddenly become a How?
What’s the difference between the Why and the Scenario? Perhaps the Scenario is what is going on outside or you, meanwhile the Why is what is going on inside of you. In the case of saving your family by killing someone, the Scenario is that your family is under threat, meanwhile the Why is that you wanted to protect them.
Finally, what is good and what is bad? What What’s are bad things to do, what How’s are bad ways to do things, what Scenarios justify what actions, and what Why’s are good reasons to take those actions? I’m Christian, and I’m thankful that I can look to God, His scriptures, and His Prophets for what is ultimately right and what is wrong, so fortunately I don’t have to get into an unending post trying to describe good vs. bad. However, I will leave with this statement:
To be a Hero, Do the Right things, the Right way, in the Right situation, and for the Right reasons, reasons which are based on the Right principles, which principles you can find as you look toward God for guidance.
One thought on “To Be A Hero”
For swirling thoughts, that was pretty profound! You mentioned not having a conclusion, but sometimes, good writing just gets people thinking. By not having definite conclusion fed to the reader, it fosters thought and perhaps discussion.
As for my take on the topic, like you, I approach it from a Christian perspective. Thus, I think that for me, all actions must be weighed and measured against the question, “What would God think of the What and How given the Why for the specific scenario?” For example, in the book Numbering the Stars by Lois Lowry, The Scenario, “an invading army”, and Why, “Jews being forcefully relocated”, feel to me to justify the How, “lying” and the What, “sneaking the Jews out of the country.” In other words, from my frame of reference, the Lord would weigh it all out, and likely call the work good.
There are an infinite number of different scenarios one can consider. It seems to me, that each of us must make a judgement call based on our moral beliefs. For me, I might look at it as how would I feel about it as I stand before the Lord explaining it.