The myth of heroism or courage

We romanticize heroism. It’s in pretty much every story there has ever been.

When someone dies we stick a ‘heroism’ narrative onto their story. We tell people that person was great and their strength in the end was ‘impressive’ and ‘inspiring’

The more I hear this stuff the more I realize It’s empty.

Not only does it hold up an image that no one can live up to.
But It’s not even true. No one chooses to be ‘heroic’

I mean think about it! If a child has loads of surgeries what do they get told over and over? “Aw you’re so brave! I don’t think I could have done that!” Yes you fucking could.

And I’ll tell you why, because you have no choice in the matter. It’s not heroism. It’s lack of choice.

Do you think when I was a kid I was stoically sat there like, “Oh it’s just another heart surgery, but I can make it. I’m tough stuff me!” No! I didn’t have a choice. Things were just done.

Heroism is the biggest myth we’ve told ourselves.

Many people have turned away from old myths about gods and the like.

But no one it seems, is able to, is ready to, leave their hero myths behind.

Even as I say that, I find it hard to detach myself from the idea of heroism. I can think of characters in stories that I’ve admired and still can’t help but cling to an admiration of. Certain people come to mind. And it’s hard to let go and say, “Actually this heroism stuff is bullshit.”

I get it. It *feels* inspiring, at least in the moment.
But it’s an empty myth. We repeat ad nauseam. But we’re also trapped into it.

I don’t think a story can exist and be interesting without some heroic element involved.

Can we ever move beyond heroism?

And as a paradox, could the bravest most heroic thing we ever do be to move on from heroism myths?

8 thoughts on “The myth of heroism or courage

  1. inkbiotic November 24, 2020 / 7:53 pm

    I totally relate to this. I heard the same when I was ill and felt the same frustration. I wanted to shout ‘I would dump this on you instead of me if I could, how’s that for brave?’
    But then, so much of life is hard, maybe we need the heroism delusion to keep us going a lot of the time, and it’s only when it doesn’t work we get frustrated. A little honesty with the heroism might be helpful though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt Johnson November 24, 2020 / 9:36 pm

      Maybe we do need the delusion. But I sometimes wonder if we didn’t have the delusion if people would just be more accepting of just being…. human.

      Liked by 1 person

      • inkbiotic November 25, 2020 / 6:08 am

        Good point. Very good point. I would prefer that.


      • Matt Johnson November 25, 2020 / 9:14 pm

        Also I’ve noticed people use the phrase ‘We’re only human, after all’ after some minor mistake.

        It’s like we have to remind ourselves as a species that we’re not more than human.

        Liked by 1 person

      • inkbiotic November 26, 2020 / 6:18 am

        Yes, very true. Do you think you make those demands on yourself? To be more than human? Or are you more accepting?


      • Matt Johnson December 1, 2020 / 8:43 pm

        I make those demands on myself even though I recognise I’m ‘only human’

        Liked by 1 person

      • inkbiotic December 2, 2020 / 6:05 am

        Well, I hope you have a day of giving yourself a break. I’ll try and do the same. Doing our best should be enough, shouldn’t it? What else can we do?


  2. Liora March 10, 2021 / 4:13 pm

    A very brutally honest poem that shakes us back into the reality of life and our capabilities as a human and a reminder that we just don’t have to be heroes. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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