“Everyone’s a hero, everyone’s a star” according to Jon Bon Jovi on 2005’s Have A Nice Day. That seems to be the prevailing mindset of our American society today – everyone is a Real American Hero.
This trend started with truly heroic actions performed by self-effacing people – a passer-by would rush into a burning building and rescue a family (including their dog, cat, and goldfish); a soldier would fall on a grenade to save his buddies. We were raised on heroic tales of Homeric magnitude, of God-Men battling thousands of evildoers with their bare hands and of Atlas holding the world on his shoulders.
Now we have guys who get paid millions of dollars to play ball – when they feel like it – being labeled heroes. We have commercials on TV showing kids with cancer as heroes; the teenager who shows up at the local recruiting station and enlists is a hero. Every cop, every fireman, every soldier is a hero. A guy on the news this morning chased down a driver-less car, jumped in and stopped it – instant hero. Some scummy, smelly, foul-mouthed rock guitarist strums a few power chords – it’s hero time!
Get real, people.
According to the dictionaries, true heroism involves “extraordinary courage, fortitude or greatness of soul.”Nowhere does it say that just showing up for your job as a fireman and maybe handling a hose once in a while is a hero. It doesn’t describe a “guy who works a shit job to feed his family” as a hero. But that’s what we’re being sold. We’re being led to the belief that just doing your job is heroic, that if you’re a victim of a maniac’s theater shooting you had to have “died heroically” and that just having some incurable disease automatically enrolls you in the hallowed halls of heroes.
If I donate $20 a month to the Humane Society of America I’m told I’m a hero and am given a windbreaker and tote bag as my reward. Watch the political conventions that are blanketing the news right now – every five minutes you’ll hear one or another candidate being called “an American hero”.
Don’t get me wrong – heroes still exist, but not in the numbers the American media would have you believe. It’s all part of the entitlement movement begun a few decades ago and it has turned ugly. Anyone who speaks out against these heroes, questioning the validity of giving them that name, is automatically viewed with narrowed eyes – they aren’t True Americans.
Look at what happened to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes when he dared to imply that not every fallen soldier was a hero – he was pretty much roasted over an open flame. On 9/11, there were a few true heroes, but just dying during that horrible attack shouldn’t qualify you as heroic – just unlucky.
The problem is that in calling everyone a hero you belittle the ones that actually ARE heroic. And here’s one final, chilling thought: a term such as “hero”, along with “Warrior” and “Homeland Security” and “Great American”, is just another step toward Fascism by the Powers-that-Be. Soviet Russia had a Hero program for many years and cranked out thousands of Heroes – where are they now?