They’re everywhere. The thuggish anti-hero who turns from his hideous past because of a threat to his cute niece and her kittens. The selfish lord who only helps others when he has something to gain in the end. The cold-hearted killer who, for some reason or another, only kills those who deserve to die.
I get it, people are messed up. We all have baggage and we all make mistakes. The shining white knight is not really cool because no one thinks he or she exists. The only protagonists we seem to want to read or watch these days are the broken everymen who are just trying to get by. Even our superheroes are rarely morally respectable all the way through. Thor is arrogant and brash. Ironman is also arrogant and narcissistic. Batman carries a serious burden and disappears for great lengths of time. Where have our heroes gone?
We are obsessed with dark these days. Popular books and movies are getting darker and darker. The Hunger Games, for example, is about a bunch of kids killing each other, and it’s a series for youth. I understand that this outlook is easily adopted by looking around the world. War seems to be looming around every corner. The news is full of stories of murder, theft, and corruption. But our reaction does not have to mirror the world.
Some respond to this darkness by claiming that’s just the way it is. The world is dark, and we have to just make it through on our own. Game of Thrones, one of the most popular novel series (and HBO shows) right now is one of the most depressing stories I’ve come across in a while. There are no real morally upright people, and any who are quickly find themselves on the wrong end of a sword. This teaches us that standing up for the right will only lead to disaster. The only way to get through this world, and hopefully do a little good, is to do some pretty dirty things along the way, according to George R. R. Martin.
But does this reflect the truth of the world? I don’t think so. I think the only way to really make changes in this world is to stand up against injustice and evil, even if it costs us everything. Love is the only thing that can change this world, not self-preservation.
We’ve bought the lie that self-interest is what is going to change the world for the better. What we need to realize is that taking a risk for love and kindness is far more powerful than anything that evil can throw at us. And this is why we need to find real heroes again.
Heroes are not those who seek their own good. They fight for someone or something else. They defend the weak, the helpless, the poor. They fight against those who would oppress, misuse, or dominate. They don’t have to be perfect, but they have to make the right choices, no matter the cost. In the end, they have to do the right thing. If we don’t have heroes to show us this, how are we going to act when we are faced with challenges and temptations in our lives?
Enough of anti-heroes. We need good old fashioned heroes again.