Heroes! Superheroes! Heroes everywhere!
As a child I have always loved the stories of heroes, knights, samurais and all of that happy bunch.
Heroes and their moral code were giving me reassurance about the unconscious chaos I was seeing all around me (hey, it’s life baby!). Knowing that somebody was willing to sacrifice himself or herself, or at least the majority of his/her free time, was giving me the calm that follows the awareness that order has been restored.
But this was not something deemed to last. Luckily my critical mind came into the equation and now here I am, speaking badly about all of those man in costume (no offence!).
Heroes do to our super-ego what advertisement does to our consumption habits.
We could just buy what suits our needs, but no, we have to take it further. Similarly we could be just decent human being, but that’s not enough apparently. The game is either being a hero or a nobody.
This moral marketing plan started long long time ago.
We first had Hercules in Greek mythology, killing two snakes with his bare hands when being still an infant.
We then had smarter versions of this early Schwarzenegger with Ulysses and even their more spiritually-inclined variation with Saint George and the Dragon (who manage to get the girl at the end anyway!).
What I know is that I’ve learnt to tie my shoelace when I was about six. This doesn’t seem to be a good start for my hero career. Yet, I am glad I am not part of the club.
Because, think about it. To be a hero must be a very meagre job. You either have to justify your passion for lattice by telling everybody that your costume is the one of the protector of justice. Similarly you have no chance being bought an ice-cream after a fight, because of your regenerating power.
This is the bottom line of the whole heroes thing. A hero does not have time to really enjoy himself.
In truth I believe there should be less of hose heroes (at least in the form portrayed by most stories). The reason is simple. To foster the idea of the hero might be counterproductive for our happiness and the one of others. We cannot focus on what we are right now, if we believe there is a far better alternative for what we could be (Duh!).
Reinforcing so much the importance of the individual perspective might lead us away from seeing the bigger picture, from accepting things the way they are and from adopting a compassionate view towards life.
To leave so much space to the hero means taking space away from others. Also, insisting so much on the moral virtues of the hero does not allow us to ask for help when we most need it.
This is not to say that our individual life are not important, nor that we should shift our societies towards models that create weird systems of incentives. I just imagine what a world not so individual-centred would be.
I like to think that the alternative world we could would be one with more kindness, with more space for open and truthful relationships with others. I also like to think that many drivers of our society, like status or consumption, would lose much of their appeal.
I am aware that this thinking might sound utopian, but perhaps it is not that unrealistic either.
We have no control on the conditions we were raised in, but we do have a choice of opening up, trying to be awake and to practice compassion with ourselves and with others. And this practice is something that is available to us right now. It just asks us to stop for a minute, take away the hero mask and breath.
Ultimately, this is not for our happiness only, but for the happiness of everybody.
Anyway, I’ve got to go now. Ironman’s movie has just finished its download!!!