Few of us will do the spectacular deeds of heroism that spread themselves across the pages of our newspapers in big black headlines. But we can all be heroic in the little things of everyday life. We can do the helpful things, say the kind words, meet our difficulties with courage and high hearts, stand up for the right when the cost is high, keep our word even though it means sacrifice, be a giver instead of a destroyer. Often this quiet, humble heroism is the greatest heroism of all.
On the other hand, heroism is basic to the character of the Nordic peoples. This heroism of the ancient mythic period and this is what is decisive has never been lost, despite times of decline, so long as the Nordic blood was still alive. Heroism, in fact, took many forms, from the warrior nobility of Siegfried or Hercules to the intellectual nobility of Copernicus and Leonardo , the religious nobility of Eckehart and Lagarde, or the political nobility of Frederick the Great and Bismarck , and its substance has remained the same.
I am well aware that there is such a great craving in man for heroism and the heroic, and that hero worship forms not a small motif in his complex. I am also aware that, unless man believes in his own heroism and the heroism of others, he cannot achieve much or great things. We must, however, take proper care that we do not make a fetish of this cult of hero-worship, for then we will turn ourselves into votaries of false gods and prophets.
You are constantly being trained to be heroic only in the service of your masters - only in slaughter and sacrifice and subjugation. But there is no heroism in serving your masters. Real heroism is questioning why you have masters at all. All these stories, all these fantasies, all these superpowers - are designed to steal heroism from you, to make it impossible, fantastical, remote, and unachievable - and make you useful to your masters (as a hit man, if needed). What is the opposite of this? The opposite of fantasy is philosophy. The opposite of mythology is integrity. And integrity is truth in action.
Gentlemen- by which I mean, of course, latter adolescents who aspire to manhood gentlemen, here is a truth: Enduring tedium over real time in a confined space is what real courage is. Such endurance is, as it happens, the distillate of what is, today, in this world neither you nor I have made, heroism. Heroism
David Foster Wallace
When you confuse personal love and cosmic heroism you are bound to fail in both spheres. The impossibility of the heroism undermines the love, even if it is real. This double failure is what produces the sense of utter despair that we see in modern man... Love, then, is seen a religious problem
Mankind's common instinct for reality has always held the world to be essentially a theatre for heroism. In heroism, we feel, life's supreme mystery is hidden. We tolerate no one who has no capacity whatever for it in any direction. On the other hand, no matter what a man's frailties otherwise may be, if he be willing to risk death, and still more if he suffer it heroically, in the service he has chosen, the fact consecrates him forever.
However much of time, labor, or other means it takes to establish a reputation, it frequently happens that it requires nearly as much to maintain it. One who has written a good book, is expected on all occasions to "talk like a book." Or, if one has achieved an act of heroism, he is expected to perform acts of heroism for the edification of all who approach him. There are people who can never believe they see a lion unless they hear him roar.
Christian Nestell Bovee
To be a true hero you must be a true Christian. To sum up then, heroism is largely based on two qualities- truthfulness and unselfishness, a readiness to put one's own pleasures aside for that of others, to be courteous to all, kind to those younger than yourself, helpful to your parents, even if helpfulness demands some slight sacrifice of your own pleasure. . .you must remember that these two qualities are the signs of Christian heroism.
To be a true hero you must be a true Christian. To sum up then, heroism is largely based on two qualities- truthfulness and unselfishness, a readiness to put one's own pleasures aside for that of others, to be courteous to all, kind to those younger than yourself, helpful to your parents, even if helpfulness demands some slight sacrifice of your own pleasure... you must remember that these two qualities are the signs of Christian heroism.
You democratize heroism. Everybody is a hero, and simply for doing (and often not well at that) the ordinary tasks of living as a half-decent person. Does your mother fix you breakfast? She is a hero. Does your father visit you every weekend without fail? A hero. Does your teacher mark your papers faithfully when you make a mistake? Unexampled heroism, that. If everyone is a hero, then no one is a hero; and genuine heroes will go unnoticed in all the mindless self-congratulation.
The truth is that the heroism of your childhood entertainments was not true valor. It was theatre. The grand gesture, the moment of choice, the mortal danger, the external foe, the climactic battle whose outcome resolves all-all designed to appear heroic, to excite and gratify and audience. Gentlemen, welcome to the world of reality-there is no audience. No one to applaud, to admire. No one to see you. Do you understand?Here is the truth-actual heroism receives no ovation, entertains no one. No one queues up to see it. No one is interested.
David Foster Wallace
The truth is that the heroism of your childhood entertainments was not true valor. It was theatre. The grand gesture, the moment of choice, the mortal danger, the external foe, the climactic battle whose outcome resolves all--all designed to appear heroic, to excite and gratify and audience. Gentlemen, welcome to the world of reality--there is no audience. No one to applaud, to admire. No one to see you. Do you understand?Here is the truth--actual heroism receives no ovation, entertains no one. No one queues up to see it. No one is interested.
David Foster Wallace
It also strikes me that male-to-male bonding can create a gender role conflict, as it challenges the myth of full independence. Heroism is an exception. In fact, heroism has a long tradition as part of manhood. Bonds formed through natural disaster or war are exceptions to the typical 'self-reliance' rules. These are op-portunities for men to experience a type of connection with each other that is ordinarily prohibited by the 'rules' of manhood.
Mary Crocker Cook
So many misconceptions surround the notion of heroism. Far too many categorize a hero as a champion on the battlefield, a commander of legions, a master of rare talent or ability. Granted, there have been heroes who fit those descriptions. But many men of great evil as well. Heed me. A hero sacrifices for the greater good. A hero is true to his or her conscience. In short, heroism means doing the right thing regardless of the consequences. Although any person could fit that description, very few do. Choose this day to be one of them." (Beyonders - A World Without Heroes)
The attitude of uncompromising heroism is attractive, and appeals especially to the dramatic instinct. But the purpose of the serious revolutionary is not personal heroism, nor martyrdom, but the creation of a happier world. Those who have the happiness of the world at heart will shrink from attitudes and the facile hysteria of "no parley with the enemy." They will not embark upon enterprises, however arduous and austere, which are likely to involve the martyrdom of their country and the discrediting of their ideals. It is by slower and less showy methods that the new world must be built [... ] To find fault with those who urge these considerations, or to accuse them of faint-heartedness, is mere sentimental self-indulgence, sacrificing the good we can do to the satisfaction of our own emotions.