William Faulkner told us to kill our darlings, good advice. Advice none of us listen to.
Faulkner was referring to a myriad of things with his quote but ultimately it has come to mean ‘get rid of that thing you love the most in your writing, as it is bogging it down’. What this ultimately is is an advocation of objectivity. Something you dearly love probably will not convey to a separate audience because they do not have the same intrinsic level of familiarity with whatever it is as you do and therefore do not understand the significance of that beautiful filigree patterned coffee table that keeps appearing in every scene in the Mother’s house. In short: fuck the coffee table, explain why he murdered the Dad. I hate writer’s explaining how to write as if they’re some sort of authority, so that’s all the explanation that needs for now but I do think this is not applied to our lives enough.
Hero worship is endemic in western society today. And I hate it.
Too often I see interviews, news stories or posts online praising the heroism of someone and what a testament they are to our race, a paragon of humankind. Despite being lazy hyperbole and clickbaiting the nuance of what made this person embody the qualities of heroism that we as a people so love this is dangerous as it usually ascribes the title to a group. Policemen, Soldiers, Firemen, etc are all regularly called heroes or similar breathless superlatives to that effect positioning the individuals into that of a totem for the role. The trouble is this does not account for the foibles of the individual within the role. Not for one second do I question the courage it takes to talk down a man with a weapon or view a crime scene, fight a blazing inferno or travel across the world to enforce the agenda of a safely ensconced wealthy man with fatal intensity, nor do I undersell the mental and physical cost this would place on the individual but what we should be recognising is that these are people. People come with baggage. Not every cop is a saint, not every soldier is a noble warrior and not every firefighter is a gentle giant. Sorry. As repeated new stories remind us day in, day out, the badge or coat of arms the jobs represent is a only as good as the person serving beneath that banner and sadly, sometimes these people can become power drunk or susceptible to coercion, and in some cases were just bad eggs from the start. These people do indeed sully the institutions they work for. I do not want to live in a world without police, fire fighters, doctors, soldiers or any of the luxuries I have as a tax payer. They make my life infinitely easier and I feel safer knowing they are all there. But we must recognise these are fallible systems too.
Someone once said to me that “Mums are amazing, every Mum I know is a hero”. I whole heartedly disagree with that. I have some very unpopular views when it comes to kids. I think we are over populated enough and additional members to this race that we are all fast losing is a savage blow but more relevantly whilst the creation of life is undoubtedly a miracle of evolution it is biology, and it happens several hundred thousand times a day and as unpleasant as it is to hear, some of these women aren’t very good at it. I know that will get me in a lot of trouble but unfortunately some Parents just aren’t good at their job, some of them even know it but the fact of the matter is every Mother is not a hero. Most are great at their jobs and it astounds how strong a love and bond can be that makes you not care it has been crying for 8 hours straight and get up in the middle of the night to feed it but a sad and unhappy few bring the name of motherhood down. I realise I will be lambasted for criticising the wonder of childhood and motherhood as a straight white dude and… well fair enough, I should probably shut my fucking mouth you’re right but my point remains: hero worship blinds us from the unpleasant realities of human flaws.
We are all people whatever role we have in life or society and we all make mistakes, we all lie, we all say mean things intentionally or unintentionally and when you burden someone with responsibility often they will rise to the challenge but occasionally the person will buckle. The point I’m trying to make is that we see roles, jobs, not the person serving them. If a cop gets killed the whole department goes apeshit looking for the scapegoat, a soldier is killed and they’re held up as another lost hero murdered by the forces of evil to help compel us deeper into conflict, a terrorist blows up a building and they are displayed as a dead eyed monster with webbed feet and red eyes not the scared, foolish, misguided, angry, railroaded and manipulated individual they are, or equally they would be held up by ISIS as great and holy martyr. A hero.
A Hero never saved anyone. A person saves someone everyday. Hold that person up. Praise that person. A person will do good all the time. A person will be a great mother, nurse, firemen, policeman, soldier, but people? People are stupid. People are a mob and a mob is only as smart as the stupidest person in it. Use independent thought and treat others the same way so that you don’t just lump wheat in with the chaff. People often complain there are ‘no more heroes anymore’ I wish that were true. That way anyone criticising an institution might be heard out and evidence found to support that criticism and not immediately shot down and vilified. We can be Heroes but just for one day because any longer than that and you build cults around them and these once selfless individuals can be corrupted by that sense of invincibility. For crying out loud I have been called a hero! If that doesn’t sully it’s worth I don’t know what will. So for heaven’s sake if someone does something great praise the deed, praise the person but end it there. Heroes don’t exist except in films and television. Good vs Evil doesn’t exist in the real world, I wish it did cause I’d be Indiana Jones by now. The villain deserves justice, the hero deserves death. They never helped anyone.
A hero ain’t nothin’ but a sandwich.