Who is your favorite hero, and why did you pick them? Was it the cool powers, the epic stories, the feats of heroism, or something else? Now ask yourself: What’s one thing all these heroes have in common? If you said “orphans” that’s a bit of a copout. What they have in common is their sense of rebellion. They are the ones willing to do something positive, something different, something bold, something important. From Luke Skywalker joining an actual rebellion to the vigilante justice of the Caped Crusader, we often identify with and make heroes of those that go against the norms.
When we look at more “statist” like heroes like Superman or Judge Dredd we can still see this trait of rebelling against the norms. Superman is an illegal alien (albeit a literal one in this case) that takes justice into his own hands because of the immense power he holds. While he still works alongside law enforcement, it’s clear that he truly works on his own outside the system. Even Judge Dredd, known for being an enforcer of the totalitarian rule in Mega-City One, can be viewed as a rebel for his willingness to cast off everything in the name of his mission, including other judges and the expected politics he’s meant to play. Even hero cops like John McClane or Dirty Harry became our heroes for going outside the protocol and fighting the good fight on their own terms.
The important question is this: If all our heroes are rebels, why aren’t we? This isn’t a call for vigilante justice before everyone gets excited, though there are people who do that. Rather this is a call for reflection for yourself, and those you may share this notion with. Why do we consider these rebels our heroes, and why aren’t we like them? The powers/money/fantasy aspects don’t matter here. If we truly view these characters as heroes embodying traits we consider positive enough for us to call them our heroes why aren’t we trying to embody those traits ourselves? Furthermore, why do we look down at the rebels in the real world when they are closer to our heroes than we are?
You probably clicked the link above, saw people running around in costumes, and thought to yourself “wow that’s stupid.” Why though? They’re getting off of their asses, going out into the world, shrugging off the cultural norms that led to that gut reaction you may have had, and they are doing something positive, something different, something bold, something important. Sound familiar? Now maybe you’re one yourself. Maybe you are one of the few that stand up and actually do something to bring about the change that you want. Are you doing something unique and bold, or are you following some paint-by-numbers guide? If you’re getting involved with your local party or helping out at a soup kitchen that’s great for sure; it puts you leagues above those that do nothing. Ask yourself though: Can you do something different or better? Can you step out of those norms and be unique in your methods?
Being a rebel, no, being a hero starts with thinking outside the box. It starts with finding the courage and strength of character to step outside of the norms and do something novel. It starts with the willingness to be the outsider for the sake of championing a cause. As cliché and overused of a line as it is, it starts with you. Think of what your heroes stand for, what about them you find heroic, and what traits they embody. Now go out and be a hero. What’s stopping you?