The Hyperbole of the Hero

The term hero is overused. In a media cycle of 24/7 where drama drives the story, this idiom is handed out like candy. Everyone is a hero. When did simply being a decent person and doing the right thing become transmogrified into mythic status? The hyperbole our society indulges in results in a warped sense of perspective that erodes the basis of our common sense.


It’s sorta like social promotion and the abhorrent practice of holding graduation ceremonies when a kid finishes kindergarten. Really? Why is it necessary to carry on as if these ordinary passages merit pomp and circumstance? In fact, I believe that these practices have an adverse impact on us in the sense that we are communicating to ourselves and our children that unless we get outside notice and praise, our efforts count for little. Nonsense!


An element of living a mature, thoughtful, independent life is one where the most important evaluations and approval come from ourself. All too often, there will be times when nobody is there to witness or to notice what we have done. Nobody but us knows the motivations behind our choices. They’re too busy thinking about themselves. This is why, my friends, we must be self-assessing and self-praising. Because, at the end of the day, we are the only ones who truly know what we’ve accomplished and how we got there.


This ability to sustain ourselves is especially important when undertaking challenges that most will never see. Whether it is by learning to manage an unpleasant aspect of our personality or quietly doing our job in an atmosphere of egoism and competition, the world is filled with those who’d take up all the oxygen in the room. They beat their chests; they strut; they threaten; they shimmer, they shine. So, unless we decide to challenge them for the limited air, we need to find another way of moving forward.


I liken the perils of proclaiming Ordinary Joe a hero to that of watching too many movies or reality tv shows. We see portrayals of storybook romances that get resolved in 120 minutes or less or see individuals who have no talent or merit to speak of (other than gross over-promotion) who enjoy lavish lifestyles and think, why not me? The prevalence and pervasiveness of media today makes such distended examples prosaic and so, they seep into our subconscious and we grow unsatisfied—hence the erosion of our common sense.


Please don’t misunderstand me. It’s not that Ordinary Joe isn’t capable of being a hero, but heroes are known for extraordinary feats. Winning the Tour de France or graduating from high school may be an accomplishment, but it’s not heroic. (No exclamation points used to heighten the drama of this statement.)


When re-booting ourselves and our lives, a mainstay of such an effort is to return to basics. We must strive to be self-evaluative and self-praising, not seeking the approval of others. I struggle with this everyday. But, we are not children. We know what’s true, what’s important, and what’s honest. Who can evaluate us better than ourselves?


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One Response to “The Hyperbole of the Hero”

  1. grasshopper Says:

    great topic! And so many wonderful points…really enjoyed this one. thank you!

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