Why we need heroes
When I was much younger, I lived in the city of Aurora. As a senior in high school, I was looking forward to moving out of town, going somewhere different, becoming an adult.
This was 1999, the year of the Columbine High School shooting.
Understand that I was a young man, I read comic books, and watched the occasional anime. In the wake of such a terrible tragedy, I was reminded that even though we have a powerful military, a reliable police force, and individuals who are brave enough to put their lives on the line, that we still suffer from a terrible case of mortality. No matter the situation, we all experience some level of helplessness that is mitigated primarily by luck and our own ability to act under pressure. When faced with a situation involving gunmen and students, we saw stories of both triumph and sadness. As children, we rely on our parents when we are scared. As adults, we only rely on ourselves.
Recently, I moved back to Aurora (temporarily). After being here a month, a gunman opens fire in a crowded movie theater, killing at least 12 and injuring many others. While police have been praised for reacting quickly, and stories of heroism pour through the media, we still experience that same sense of helplessness. Could anything really have been done to avert such a tragedy? Even with a room full of human beings at the pinnacle of human ability, could someone have reached the gunman in time to prevent such a thing from happening?
Okay, so stay with me on this. I just saw the latest Spiderman movie, and will see Batman on Friday. The question at hand is "Why do we need heroes?" I'm not talking about our own real life heroes, but the idea that some human being is given powers and abilities that allow them to even the playing field. I think that, instinctively, we want to believe in some universe where there exists some sense of balance, some form of justice that goes beyond what our own government can provide. We like to see the villains of our world with their roles reversed, powerless when compared to these individuals.
When we watch these movies, or read these books, we expect to see our heroes given the chance to crush those who give us that lack of power. It helps us to feel better, perhaps even safe, in a world full of random acts. How amazing would such a thing be if the likes of Superman graced our earth, always saving the day where we cannot? When we hear about these things on the news, we like to wonder "What if?" Or, at least, I do. I think we need heroes to give us hope and security, even if such a thing can only be a dream.
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