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Blupete's Weekly Commentary


May 21st, 2000.

"The Hero"

A hero maybe the person who forms the subject of an epic story; the one in whom the interest of the story or plot is centered. Or, in another sense, one who exhibits extraordinary bravery, firmness, fortitude, or greatness of soul, in any course of action and thus for this reason to be admired and venerated. It is in this latter sense that I treat the word. And, I refine its meaning yet further: the hero as one who uses his strength, courage, and ability to fight for an idea rather then one ready to fight in order to "settle successions, to rectify frontiers, or to maintain the balance of power": I am not here concerned with the military hero.

The hero is confident. I do not speak of confidence which might be better described as assurance based on insufficient or improper grounds; but rather the confidence that can only come about when one is completely sure of the ultimate correctness of the idea to which she or he is espoused. It was Emerson who opened his piece on the subject with the words, "Self-trust is the essence of heroism." The hero will always check his footing before defending his position; he will double check the facts upon which his ideas rest; and, the hero will devote himself or herself to a continuing course of study. The hero's object, always, is to get to the truth of the matter. In this pursuit he will employ the rules which Roger Bacon laid down long ago: Avoid: 1. Weak and unworthy authority; 2. Long standing custom; 3.The feeling of the ignorant crowd, and; 4. The hiding of our own ignorance while making a display of our apparent knowledge.

The hero is persistent; indeed, persistency is his or her chief characteristic. Persistency is often the only way to resist the destruction of prejudice, which is commonly violent at first. Persistency, in spite of failure, is the only way to ultimate success. Time -- during which the various themes of the idea are repeated both by discourse and action -- is the only thing that will overcome "the feeling of the ignorant crowd."

The hero is virtuous. His assertions always conform with the principles of morality; he voluntarily recognizes and observes the moral laws or standards of right conduct; he is against wrong-doing or vice. "The heroic soul does not sell its justice and its nobleness. It does not ask to dine nicely, and to sleep warm. The essence of greatness is the perception that virtue is enough."

"The first step of worthiness will be to disabuse us of our superstitious associations with places and times, with number and size," so Emerson writes. The popular cause cannot be supported just because it is popular. A revolutionary is rarely a hero, more often he is but a misanthrope looking for adventure. A student of history comes to know the manner of men who become revolutionaries. They are usually scrappers who are ready to take on a popular cause and make not the least little bit of enquiry into the issues and how they may be best resolved. Again, Emerson:

"We have seen or heard of many extraordinary young men, who never ripened, or whose performance in actual life was not extraordinary. When we see their air and mien, when we hear them speak of society, of books, of religion, we admire their superiority, they seem to throw contempt on our entire polity and social state; theirs is the tone of a youthful giant, who is sent to work revolutions. But they enter an active profession, and the forming Colossus shrinks to the common size of man. The magic they used was the ideal tendencies, which always make the Actual ridiculous ; but the tough world had its revenge the moment they put their horses of the sun to plough in its furrow. They found no example and no companion, and their heart fainted."

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Peter Landry

May, 2000 (2013)