Social media personality Krizette Chu shared a post she wrote a year ago about what makes a person a hero, particularly what makes President Rodrigo Duterte a hero.
Photo credits: ABS-CBN News
Quoting Sherlock Holmes, Chu wrote, “Sherlock Holmes is a great man–and if we’re very, very lucky–one day, he might even be a good one,” to explain why there was a difference between greatness and goodness and why the Philippines needed the former.
“If you ask me, civilization has devolved in modern times that we praise men for doing what is only polite and expected, or at least human and conscionable,” Chu argued.
She expounded on the thought by explaining that things like “polite”, “human”, and “conscionable” were matters of decency and not necessarily heroism.
Today’s heroes, at her time of writing, were “simply good human beings who shrug off the temptations of convenient choices and instant wealth, who stop by sidestreets and offer homeless people food,” and Chu points out that this is not enough.
In times when terrorism and grave problems arise, “we need men willing to shed blood, willing to go above and beyond, willing to put their necks out, willing to barter their life for somebody else’s–someone who is able to redefine the limits.”
Chu leaves a strong remark that heroes are also humans who are bound to their weaknesses, but it should not deter their valor, courage, and determination to triumph.
In her full post on Facebook, Chu said,
Why you don’t need to be good to be great?
There’s a great Sherlock Holmes quote that goes, “Sherlock Holmes is a great man–and if we’re very, very lucky–one day, he might even be a good one.”
Yup, reminds me of someone.
There’s no question about it: Social media, and well, the antiseptic quality of our modern age, has skewed the real definition of greatness and heroism.
If you ask me, civilization has devolved in modern times that we praise men for doing what is only polite and expected, or at least human and conscionable.
When has our definition of heroism become the common man’s common heroism?
Today, it is so much harder to detach the word—“heroism”—from morality.
The word “hero” came from the ancient Greeks to define a mortal who did something so astounding it transcended his mortality. If a man leaves a memory behind him worthy of immortality, if his deeds are the kind that ripple through eternity, if masses talk about him in awe and veneration, if he inspires action, then he has earned the privilege to be called one.
The first heroes of history were Hercules, slayer of monsters; Dionysus, the founder of fraternities; the first doctor Asclepius.
The first heroes didn’t have to be good—not in the way we expect our heroes to be today—but they had to be superhuman, achieving things greater and more powerful and more impressive than what ordinary people could imagine.
To be a hero in its rawest sense is to be bigger than yourself; to achieve feats of greatness despite the limitations of mortals.
To be a hero is to expand beyond what is expected, to be extraordinary, to leave everlasting legacies. To be Jose Rizal, full of his own faults, weak to women, but able to topple regimes by the power of his pen. To be Ninoy Aquino, whose death was the pebble that created ripples of change. To be Josefa Llanes Escoda, who chose to stay in jail than to bend to her captor’s demands.
Today, heroes are, well, simply good human beings who shrug off the temptations of convenient choices and instant wealth, who stop by sidestreets and offer homeless people food. Good, but disappointing, because isn’t this more about decency than heroism?
But now more than ever—when we are under constant threat of terrorism, when our world is besieged by evil, when there is rarely a moment’s peace before the headlines erupt again with stories of death and decapitation—we need the heroes of yesteryears.
We need men willing to shed blood, willing to go above and beyond, willing to put their necks out, willing to barter their life for somebody else’s–someone who is able to redefine the limits.
We need our politicians to be statesmen, our Presidents to be leaders, our policemen to be real protectors.
Many years ago, an administrator of a prize-giving body in the United States asked kids who their personal heroes were. Superman and Spiderman were heroes to more kids than, say, Lincoln or Luther King or even Einstein.
Our modern culture has muddled the definition of heroism—confusing it with, yes, ethics, principles, decency, athleticism, celebrity, talent, even integrity and honor.
And we wonder what attracts impressionable kids to “heroes” as projected by the ISIS and bomb-strapping young men willing to die for their beliefs, wrong or otherwise– because we are hard pressed to find such level of sacrifice within our ranks!
But can you blame us, us who are made cynical by our leaders’ opportunistic use of hero imagery to further their own causes?
So what do we do?
There’s no hard and fast answer, and no cure-all antidote. But what we do need is to be reminded, especially as the elections draw near and self-styled heroes court us for our votes, that heroes are human, too.
Real heroes are not models of perfection. They do not go about saving the world with a halo on their head. Rizal was a womanizer; Gen. Luna was short-tempered and trigger-happy and cursed to high heavens; and Andres Bonifacio, having only finished fourth grade, wasn’t the great oratorical debater the other Philippine heroes were.
Many—all of our heroes—have shortcomings and blemishes and secret lives, and many are unlikable, and yet that do not—should not—take away from their valor and their courage and their determination to triumph.
But that’s the point, too, isn’t it? Heroes have frailties and faults, and yes, they’re just like us, only bolder.
And that, I guess, should be enough motivation to search for the hero within ourselves.”