The “hero” mania

The word “hero” confuses me.  It has for a long time.  In America, “hero” is conferred so often it has become all but meaningless.   If, say, an American does a Boy Scout-good deed, the media laud him as a hero.

This hero mania, I believe is purely American.  I don’t think this neurosis is prevalent in other advanced countries, particularly the ones more sophisticated than ours like in western Europe and Scandanavia.

The trigger point arrived recently.

Donald Trump, the GOP presidential candidate, questioned whether Arizona Senator John McCain, a fellow Republican, was a war hero only because of being a former POW.

“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said, before later backtracking. “He was a hero because he was captured.  I like people who weren’t captured.”

In retreat, Trump said, “If somebody is a prisoner, I consider him a war hero”  So now Trump can have it both ways.

The trouble with “hero” is that there is no precise definition.  We can make a “hero” out of anyone we choose.  Dad gave a dime to a poor man.  Ah, a hero.

I have no statistics to prove it, but I believe this hero sickness started with 9/11.   Americans suddenly realized on that tragic date they were no longer safe on home soil.  Not only is that a fearful thought but it has led to serious doubts about who we are as a country.  No matter how great we say our country is, an inferiority complex resides deep inside us.  And that’s the basis, I think for the “hero” mania that absorbs us now.

By finding “heroes” on every corner, Americans feel better about themselves.  It is a myth of course, and we will have to deal with reality somewhere down the line.

Deal with reality or die as a country.


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