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Date Posted: Friday, January 27, 10:46:05am
Author: JayBee, jumping right in
Subject: Oh, this is an interesting topic! (r)
In reply to: ~delle 's message, "what is a hero?" on Friday, January 27, 07:19:43am

Let me head off in a very different direction by asserting this: I don't believe that anyone "is" a hero, in the sense of it being part of his or her identity or any sort of permanent trait. Someone might be "good," in a more or less consistent way, or even "brave," but heroism, to me, tends to assert itself in a specific context, and only momentarily at that.

For me, heroism involves (1) an acceptance of unnecessary hardship and/or risk (that is, hardship or risk that the person could have avoided), and this hardship/risk is taken on (2) for the benefit of someone/something other than oneself or one's personal interests. Both elements have to be there for me to see an action as heroic, rather than merely good or brave.

A heroic action might be that of a passerby who runs into a burning building to save a child he doesn't know. Or that of a whistleblower who risks her job in order to speak up about corporate wrongdoing. Perhaps the best capsule image of this might be the man who stood in front of the row of tanks at Tiananmen Square.

These actions are all heroic. But do they make those people "heroes"? Only in that moment. The next day, they might -- and probably will -- go back to behaving in typically human (i.e. self-interested) ways. A person can be a hero at one moment and a coward -- or worse -- at another. Heroism tends to be an anomaly in anyone's life -- only in fiction are people "heroes" by definition.

Turning this to LFN, I think you can point to instances where *all* of the main characters occasionally had their moments of heroism. But none of them were heroes, and in fact none of them behaved heroically even most of the time.

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  • Ooh! -- Swatkat, Friday, January 27, 10:58:13am
  • Er... -- Swatkat, Friday, January 27, 11:02:38am

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