Sunday, June 20, 2010

On Heroism

So I just finished writing my latest book and was discussing it with a coworker of mine. I may have written my first true tragedy. Instead of ending the book on a wedding, as seems to be a common theme in my stories (maybe I'm a hopeless romantic), the protagonist dies, and not even in a glorious way, sick, alone, and facing an antagonist that through the story becomes increasingly sympathetic to the reader (who also loses everything in the end).

If someone is dying anyway from a terminal illness, is it heroic to die fighting for some great cause? One argument from my coworker was that it is better to live to save others another day than to save someone once and not be able to do more good because you're dead. Save someone today, someone else tomorrow, and save another the day after that. It's better than saving someone today and not being able to save any more.

But if you're dying anyway, you won't have any tomorrows or the day afters to save others. You have today and only today. We concluded that to die having done nothing is far less heroic than to die trying to help. In the end, it is not the hero who decides whether they were heroic, it is decided by those saved. In fact, one could argue that it is more heroic to not believe in your own heroism.

I heard a statement that said, the difference between bravery and insanity is that the brave were afraid but did the dangerous thing anyway. Those that don't understand or care about the danger, are not brave but crazy or stupid. Heroism tends to tie into bravery. The hero is the one who didn't want to, was afraid to, but did the right thing anyway, even though it was hard.


Blogger Eliza said...

I definitely agree with your point on bravery!

3:43 PM  

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