Have you thought about your favorite fictional hero lately? People count on their champions to never disappoint, and let’s face it– your heroes have always benefitted you. Here’s a twist: You can shift from the passive and take action for his or her sake. Don’t let your hero down.
It does feel good to be passive around our heroes. There he is, on the screen, over the airwaves or in a comic or book. We’re in our comfy chair and by the pleasure of our command we are in his world. Unfailingly, there he is, carrying someone to safety, or linking clues to a crime. And he’s incorruptible in character as he’s true to himself. Look at him get to work! He’s going to do the right things. He’s going to figure out a dastardly mess, get up after he’s been knocked down, and bring the truth to a powerful conclusion. Probably, too, just in the nick of time to save another life.
Those who love such men and women cannot live without the ideal, especially when it’s neatly packaged for consumption. All we have to do is turn on Detective Constable Morse and follow his 90-minute lead and we are in bliss. We can’t help it! It’s a relief– yes that’s the word– to watch a master pull apart the evilest of schemes. The bad guys can’t stop him. Nor can the good guys it seems, because simply showing up in the proper team colors does not a hero make. A hero needs his independence. His loyalty is to the victim, always, and damn that someone should be hurt in the hero’s sphere. To defeat the bad guys, and to exist among the good guys, a man must be prepared to fight 360 degrees around him.
We watch. We don’t have to do the work, and the classic hero never fails in the end. We recharge, and it’s a soothing change from our hard, messy world. It’s a good turn of the brain, the hero exercise. And when the production is presented artfully, our enjoyment of the tale is all the more.
How about we pull out a 1938 radio broadcast and listen to Lamont Cranston work outside the men of law enforcement, to defeat those taking advantage of the city’s under-served. Or let’s get smitten over a dashing Captain Kirk as he uses his wit to not just save the universe, but to bring opposing sides together for the benefit of both. Including, to our delight, his two best friends, Spock and McCoy.
Lieutenant Columbo was conceived for one reason: To defeat a clever crime more cleverly. Sherlock Holmes delivered in shocking and dramatic ways. Maybe your hero– a character who’s fiercely personal to you– creates a healthy place for your head to rest, any time you need him, as an antidote for the poisons in your life.
Sometimes our hero is young and just starting out, and the audience is in fact well ahead of him. Consider the newly-minted veterinarian James Herriot in All Creatures Great And Small. We learn as he learns, and then we marvel as he eclipses us, right before our eyes. We see that despite his satchel, his moral compass is the critical tool he carries. He’s not just saving a bull, he’s preserving a family’s livelihood; it goes deeper too, holding tight the weave of the cross-generation legacy of the English countryside.
Your hero. Do you count on him to set a good example, to help you pattern your own behavior? Maybe you look to him for something grand, to reinforce your faith in mankind. Because someone real has to write it, and many someones have to consume it. That fact strengthens your faith in people.
Don’t let your hero down. Don’t drop him in the parking lot of He’s Not Really Real, to disintegrate under the grind of impassive, retread tires.
Don’t let your hero down. If you admire his actions, emulate what bits you can.
Don’t watch and lose the lesson crafted before you. Don’t watch and do nothing different tomorrow.
Free your hero from the page and fake him for choice moments of your life.
A hero prevails even after he fails. And so can you.
Take selective fiction and make it happen in front of you. Your guy is stuck in frames and on a script. You, on the other hand, are free and dynamic. No one’s expecting you to travel to Shanghai to break up an international opiate ring. What if you took certain cues from a great detective and developed a deeper relationship with your son? As your hero did when he foiled the secret China-America network that was destroying countless lives.
Do you have love in your heart to spare? Have all the champion depictions you’ve seen, over years and years, created a space within you? To be filled with warm feelings, and a purpose to try again, even when the good team said you might as well quit and the bad guys wholeheartedly agreed with them?
Heroes clear out the junk inside us. We aren’t aware of the excavation because the hollowness is filled with better stuff. You’re free to love a certain person even though you live thousands of miles apart and you’ll never meet. You’re free to love because there’s a tap with so much available at the connection. The hero’s example triumphs. He’s set us up to succeed, after all.