So I felt this article on the topic of ‘our heroes’ was a fitting start to this column. We naturally grow up attaching ourselves to a person or a concept and develop our own personalities based around those people or that concept. I touched on this briefly in my article ‘YouTube; The Benefits of an Underestimated Platform’ but I feel it deserves a broader discussion. Who we see as our ‘heroes’ differs from person to person, circumstance to circumstance. Personally I grew up admiring and being inspired by quite a few people, from celebrities like Fred Astaire, Robin Williams, Michael Jackson and Hayley Williams, to everyday people in my school who did everything in their power to do what they loved. Yet, as an example of how peoples ‘heroes’ can differ, I asked 4 of my friends who they grew up idolizing or seeing as their hero, here were their answers:
“I grew up idolizing Jim Carrey completely up until I was in late adolescence. I still love him now actually and he will always be a fond memory of my childhood. I just loved how he was a man of many faces quite literally but also emotionally and this affected me. My obsession with him led me on to love film and how I could push it” – Max, 22
“My year 5 teacher, she helped me grow in self-confidence, it was someone who finally made me believe in myself” – Katie, 20.
“My greatest hero growing up and proudly still today is Batman. I don’t know if it’s his moral righteousness or his relentless faith in humanity but I have always admired him and told myself that his way is the proper way to act. I would like to think if the world took on his philosophy of compassion and benevolence the world would be a better place” – James, 20.
“As Mummy’s little girl I grew up constantly by her side. Through her I learnt the importance of forgiveness. I learnt love and compassion but most of all, my mum always told me to love myself first. My mother has been the most influential woman in my life and I am truly thankful for that” – Zita, 21
I deliberately used people around my age, because it shows that even with such a specific age group, it differs dramatically. We all have different definitions of what the word ‘hero’ or ‘inspiration’ mean to us, and that’s important, but perhaps it is most important not to disassociate ‘hero’ with ‘human’. Out of the examples mentioned above we have an actor/comedian, a teacher, a parent, and a literal hero. Whatever way we look at it, the existence of those people or those creations have a large impact on who we are.
Heroes take many forms, but they are almost always either human, or a human creation. That’s what we can’t forget. It’s important to have a hero growing up, because they fuel you, whether it’s a family member, a celebrity or a fictional character. Their presence, whatever form it takes is a grounding factor in your development as a person. You look to them for advice, you see them as far wiser, far more experienced than yourself.
Take the example of Batman, I remember the first time people around my age really started taking superheroes seriously as a means of inspiration. There was a section of the world that seemed highly critical of the idea, “a child taking influence from a fictional character?! Absurd!” but the best things about fictional characters is that they are made to be believable, they are creations that become a reality in themselves. Batman is one of the most important examples, he is flawed, he does have a weakness but he also has an incredible amount of “compassion” and “righteousness”. Why should we ignore such figures of morality and instead be forced to admire someone real? Surely they serve the same purpose? Once again both are either human or a human creation anyway.
The reason I’m putting such emphasis on the importance of having a ‘hero’ and at the same time realising that at the end of the day they are human is to do with the influence my heroes had on me. Not only do they represent views I now hold as a good way to approach life, but they were people who began the same way I did. That teacher, that celebrity, the man who created that character all began as blubbering babies. They all, at some point, went through a stage of having no clue whatsoever. But they stand as examples of what we can become and what we can create, even in their mistakes.
Heroes, inspirations, and people going out doing what they love are the ones that keep us believing, keep our faith in humanity and keep us ambitious. Hopefully through my column I can bring you examples of things, people and creations that will do just that, keep your faith in humanity and keep you ambitious.
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