Heroes: Mine, Yours?

Heroes walk with us!  Talking about them makes for interesting (and usually revealing) sharing.  A friend of mine’s grandson, when quite young, was smitten with Batman.  The child demonstrated his passion constantly – much play doing battle that needed doing.  I have no idea whether or not Batman as ‘concept’ passed from the now young man’s thoughts.  Only he can say what motivates his responses to the world as he finds it!

Attraction to mythical and real  heroes in early childhood is interesting.  As we take in the world, and think about “where we’re coming from”, we may notice early heroes have become part of our perspective and motivation.

I hope readers may want to post reviews of their own early sense of the ‘heroic’.  I post my review to start things off, and may, from time to time, relate reviews of others that may be told me.  If you look at your own heroes, or hero infatuations you’ve heard others describe, and are inclined to share, — please do!

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As a child, I gave no special thought to heroes, did not ‘use’ the word ‘hero’ to describe my interests!  Except, in those early years, several models of “that which is possible’ planted themselves in my psyche.  Somehow they embedded deeply, to forever play a role in my underlying motivations.

In memory, I became aware of my heroes, more or less “all at once”.  I remember a particular sunny, prairie, childhood afternoon in which I “suddenly realized” my leaders in heart and soul.  As if they had always been present, but in a way that focused the three on that day. I understood shared qualities, motivations, among them.  Qualities, motivations, that resonated with me.  (I did not use words like ‘resonate’ at that time!)  On that afternoon I felt I was agreeing to a ‘pact’ with those qualities.

They were 3:  William Tell, Jesus Christ, and Martin Luther.  The stands they took, it seemed to me, were similar – each against “corruption”.  Yet each singled out a different aspect of corruption for main focus:  William tell against any human who would deny individual autonomy, Jesus Christ against any spiritually based social structure that attempted profit from the most elemental of human heart-reachings (deep awareness experience), and Martin Luther against spiritual structure turned political, manipulative, power-hungry and greedy.

From that time on, lesser known names and archetypes of “autonomous purity of wisdom/heart’ have impressed me.  These did not replace my three, but confirmed the heroic qualities in some way.

Post childhood heroes have come to include Martin Luther King, Jr., and even – from my point of view – Mao – before he became corrupted by his own power. Also Princess Diana for her persistent effort toward both individual realization and compassionate out-reaching.

Among potential ‘purely spiritual heroic guides, I have been drawn to Siddhartha Gautama.  Action on behalf of others is a common quality in my original three. He did not model a similar approach as the others – did not remain in the social/political sphere in which he found himself, (as they did).  His motivation was to understand human suffering.  He, also, “went to the wall” for reasons beyond his own gain, by commitment to study of aesthetic practices, by sharing and teaching the results of his exploration of “what it means to be human” — what it is to have consciousness.  ‘The Buddha’ is someone of immense teaching. He  promoted awareness of consciousness, right thought, right action, … , and compassion.   If more commonly known and practiced, these would significantly alter human ‘doings’ for the better.   (Perhaps, however, because my knowledge of The Buddha came late, and because common stories do not include dramatic “social/political” interactions of the original three, my relationship to The Buddha is different.  And, perhaps as a result of his teachings, my more mature adult relationship to the original three, and others along the way, is also changed!)

The common element in all my ‘heros/heroines’ is that – by myth, legend, or historical fact – each has taken a very powerful and strong stand toward human fundamental freedom “from the inside out”.  Each represents struggle against oppression and corruption by social or political forces.  Each demanded of him/herself an essential spirit of willingness to “go to the wall” if need be to serve a much greater, and deeper, profound good than ordinary daily activity, ordinary material concern, comfortably allows.

I’m not at all sure that I ‘measure up’.  But then, that’s the point of heroes isn’t it?  They become inspiration and emblem, larger than ‘ordinary life’.  Touchstones against which we can measure our own frailty and succumbing.

I think there is value in each of us taking a few minutes to consider who it is that we have ‘accepted’ as hero.  Perhaps a very personal, self-awareness, exploration.  If you have not done so, you might ask: “Who do I carry as hero?”   Please share if you’re so inclined!  — My Best To All; MaggieAnn

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2 Responses to Heroes: Mine, Yours?

  1. maggieannthoeni says:

    By running my own ‘afterthoughts’ as comments, I can avoid extending my ‘lead article text’. So am trying this out. I have a large collection of favorite photos that I run as a slide show screen saver – I find it a great way to enjoy photos of family, friends, places without need of going to an album. Shortly after my “Abe” comment I wandered off, and when re-entering the room where my computer sits — there was Ghandi – a wonderful picture I very much enjoy. Why did I not write him into my list of heroes when he is a regular inspiration to me? I think there is something different in ‘relationship’ between those very early 3, and all who have followed. This raises curiosity about the mind of a young child as she/he is getting “world understandings” first in place. Maybe all children, at some time during the early formative years, has a sort of “vacancy” – ready to be filled with notions of heroism that appeal to the child’s unique personality. Maybe an early hero acceptance sort of “fills the vacancy”, and heroes after that serve to re-inforce, but do not fill the ‘core’ place because it is already filled … maybe … ?? (Anyway, Ghandi belongs in my long list, for sure!)

  2. maggieannthoeni says:

    This morning I edited the above a bit — and later remembered the story of Abe Lincoln returning the penny! This also impressed me greatly as a child. Lincoln represented a ‘spirit’, a quality, that meant a lot despite not being ‘mythical’ — I did not think of him of ‘hero’ so much as a ‘model’ who demonstred a ‘real life human moment’ of “going to the wall”, even in a ‘small’ matter. (Somehow Martin Luther got into the original 3, and he’s not at all mythical either!) — MA

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