The legend of the hero spans through written history, sometimes the heroes are gods and sometimes mere mortals; however, every culture has at least one hero and many have several. The hero always fights the greatest evil, regardless what form it takes. The hero in myth defeats the villain, however, usually at great cost to the hero himself. Heroes die bloody, tempestuous deaths; in many cases the hero may breathe their last breath overcoming whatever great evil can be conjured up at the moment.
What is a hero? The common definition for a hero is: “a remarkably brave person, somebody who commits an act of remarkable bravery or who has shown an admirable quality such as great courage or strength of character.” (Merriam Webster, 2012) Very few of the mythological heroes actually lived up to this standard, and almost no modern heroes do. Strength of character, great courage or remarkable bravery; sure, I can find any number of people who embody one or more of these traits, but rarely will I find someone who has all of them. The All-American Hero myth is based upon those volunteers (rarely drafted) in uniform that represent law enforcement and the military branches of the government.
The nationalistic furor that surrounds holidays like Veterans Day, Memorial Day, 9/11, Pearl Harbor, the Fourth of July and more; perpetuates the idea that the very act of wearing a uniform makes one a hero. Our public schools (indoctrination centers) promote nationalism by teaching children from an early age to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and to sing any one of several poorly-written but state-supportive songs while constantly teaching children to respect and bow to the authority of a uniform. The truth of the matter is that the average law enforcement officer is no more then a highly-paid janitor, records keeper and funds collector for the state. Statistically, the average officer will never pull his firearm in defense of the law (or citizens) over the course of a thirty year career. Since all police officers are taught that 97% of all crime is committed by 3% of the population, they know theirs is not a job to prevent crime, but rather to support whatever new legislation or policy is put forth; they do this without questioning, regardless of how ridiculous laws may be, showing a singular weakness of character as a result.
The other side of this coin is the worship promulgated by the media, educational centers and millions of voters with regards to the “heroes” in the military. While some may in fact show great courage individually with their teammates, or in rare instances commit an act of great bravery (again with their teammates), and occasionally with the civilians surrounding the war torn areas they find themselves in; it is very rare that you will find any with true strength of character. After all, strength of character is frequently seen as a moral or ethical strength. Since every modern conflict fought has nothing to do with our personal liberty or freedom (as they are commonly defined), these current military actions are immoral.
Immorality is the act of defying moral principles, or something that is contrary to accepted moral principles. Morality dictates that murder is wrong; morality dictates that theft is wrong; we have hundreds of thousands of laws that are meant to protect us with regards to the many things our society sees as immoral. However, the moment a person with a badge and/ or uniform begins following orders, they are perceived as moral by the general populace. In fact, the only time their actions are usually ever seen as immoral is when they are among those defeated. The winners never stand trial, the winners are seldom held accountable for the immorality of their actions. Every day, police officers in this nation are merely slapped on the hand for actions that would result in a civilian’s long-term imprisonment or death. Individuals in the military are worshiped as heroes, and most will never see punishment for the hundreds of thousands of civilian, non-combatant deaths perpetrated.
The only time you will see a hero fall is when that particular individual’s actions bring far too much attention to the real problem: the State and its perceived leaders. After all, the most commonly used defense among all State employees, regardless of uniform type is, “I was just following orders.” Sadly, the same people who loudly proclaim the need for museums to remember the Holocaust of the Jews and others in Germany; will never be heard chanting for museums to the holocaust of little Iraqi, Afghanistan, Pakistani, Libyan, Egyptian, East African, Congolese, Kurd, Vietnamese, Korean children and noncombatants murdered to support needless war. And yes, it is a holocaust of epic proportions, the wholesale or mass destruction, especially of human life occurring daily courtesy of our “heroes” in uniforms.
The myth of the all-American hero must be disabused; if we truly want to support our family members and friends in the armed forces or law enforcement, then we must all tell the truth. Insist that they stand on ethics and morality before arbitrary legislation and orders which may come from immoral leaders. Support those who do and have done this, who have been summarily dismissed and abused in the media and by the general public. Stop blindly supporting everything the government does simply because it wraps a bow around it and calls it patriotism. I personally would rather be considered unpatriotic and even a traitor than to blindly worship the uniform in the cult of State that exists within this nation today. Nationalism is religion, as much a religion as any other that exists. When State is religion and religion is State-controlled, maybe it is time to join the atheists, who accept no gods or masters.
When asked if I have personal heroes, I no longer have a quick response; however, my heroes of today are my immediate family and close friends. All of these people have a proper sense of morality, strength of character, and in many cases they’ve shown great courage by standing up for what is right. One among my “inner circle” is a man in uniform – though I don’t place him on a pedestal because of the uniform – but in spite of it. Another is a man who worked as a law enforcement officer for many years; again, I do not categorize him as a hero because of the uniform, but rather in spite of it. What we do makes us better as people, not what we wear. Maybe we should think about that the next time we feel the urge to
- Join in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, or
- Say something negative about people fighting to defend their own homes, families, and country against our invading troops, or
- Support law enforcement officers and/or legislation which constitute invasion of people’s privacy and private property here at home.
Free the mind and the body will follow.