The hero

Note: I originally posted this on John Remy’s website as a comment on a post with a similar subject at by another great author – Miko, but decided to post it here as well because I’ve been too sick lately to write much. So I’m being lazy (or just practical since I’m recovering from surgery) and consolidating. When it comes to my priorities, it’s more important to me to post comments on other people’s sites then it is for me to write posts on this one. If you’ve read my comment there, don’t bother to read it here. The text is exactly the same with no extra goodies 🙂

Anyway, the about the hero…

This has always been a phenomena that has fascinated and inspired me. Within literature, motion picture, gaming, and song, there has always existed the hero – the person who fights for the cause of good in the titanic and ever-present battle between good and evil. It seems to me that within each man or woman, their exists a dark, broken nature which powerfully influences them. If given too much free reign, its influence can become so great that even a person’s conscience and the warnings of friends can be ignored and cut off. This same struggle is found in the macrocosm of the mind – human society (hat tip to Socrates.) And so the hero fights on two fronts – against his own broken nature, and against the people and movements in their society that have come under the near complete control of the same brokenness and have become twisted at a spiritual level into something inhuman.

What fascinates me? At first, I used to think it was because I wanted to be like the hero in the story – I was inspired to be brave and fight for what is right. As time went on, though, I began to realize that I did not want to be like some of them at all. My fascination and interest was more complex than mere mimicry.

With that realization, I began to think of good heroes in two categories (forget the complexity of the literary anti-hero) – the ‘human’ hero and the ‘perfect’ hero. The human hero is one who’s internal struggle against their own fallen nature is intense and overwhelming – greatly diminishing their ability to do good. The perfect hero is one who appears to have unlimited amounts of virtue – patient, good tempered, wise, long-suffering, not vengeful, impossibly intelligent, etc. that enables him/her to do things impossible for mere mortals. Stories with human heroes give me hope that even though we are all very broken people, it is possible to rise above it (to some limited degree) and do great good. But sadly, even the great good they do has motivations originating within their brokenness (pride, fame, greed, etc.) I didn’t want to be like these people at all. They had the same problems I had, and were no different from me except in circumstance.

The perfect hero was much more fascinating to me. He/she would mourn the perfect amount, laugh when it was time, and recover from a broken heart fast enough to overcome the opposition when the time came. Their bravery and perseverance were unquenchable. Their motivations always came from the right place – they are an unstoppable force of good in a world that is too broken to attain to their level. In my youth, this is what I wished to be like. When I grew up, I realized that because of my own brokenness, I could never ever be a person like that. Push and squeeze me with just enough hardship, and awful stuff will inevitably come out. I saw with sadness how I acted during hardship. I will not be brave. I will not endure, I will loose heart. I will fail. My anger will consume me. I will lash out and hurt the people I love the most. But it was then that I realized two things about who the perfect hero was – it was who I was always meant to be; it was who I was originally designed to be before something within me went terribly wrong. Secondly, the perfect hero became a picture not of who I wanted to be one day, but the embodiment of the person I needed to help me fight and escape my own brokenness. In this life, the perfect hero exists, but it can never be me or any other human being.

So what do I see when I read a good book or play a cool video game (World of Warcraft at the moment) or watch a great movie with a hero? Part of my brain appreciates the good storyline and great visual effects, but the much more consuming part of me sees the battle of good and evil from a different perspective in matrix code – one that takes place on the battlefield of the spiritual. It is where all men and women fight and fall – inevitably injured – most of the time mortally, by the destructiveness of their own broken nature, a powerful and unstoppable enemy. I might have taken down a few, but there are always more that follow. In the end, I fail. I am spiritually wounded badly again, fallen, half-dead, on the ground. But from somewhere, hope comes. Onto the spiritual battlefield filled with the dying and the injured comes the one who cannot fail and cannot die. The unstoppable enemies of mine cannot defeat this one. I simple cry out for help.

In the meantime, when I am renewed, I will become a better solider, but in this lifetime, this titanic battle will never be won by me, but by the perfect hero – the one who cannot fail. I throw in my lot with C.S. Lewis. The great stories are mythical pictures and shadows of the greatest story of all, to which they all point to, not unlike how all loves point to the greatest love of all, true love. To indulge in one will eventually lead to the final and greatest one.

    4 Responses to “The hero”

    1. sarah your favorite sister

      hey jon! I hope you’re feeling much better. i was just surfing around and finally subscribed to your awesome site here. so heal up and get down here.

      Reply to this comment.
    2. Jonathan
      Author Comment

      Thanks Sarah! Good to hear from you 🙂 I’ll see you sometime tomorrow!

      Reply to this comment.
    3. Elise

      Hey Jonathan!

      Just wanted to say Merry Christmas and thanks for your posts this year. I enjoyed this one on both MindOnFire and here, and I’ve found your writing to be interesting and thought provoking. Hopefully there is much more to come!

      Enjoy the holidays. 🙂

      Reply to this comment.
    4. Jonathan
      Author Comment

      Thanks Elise!
      I’ve been too tired to do much posting lately, so I’ve been taking an extended break until my mind returns to normal. Right now I’ve had no creative thought in weeks. I’m just trying to at least be creative at work and in my own personal design business 🙂

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