Wednesday, June 8, 2016

WHERE HAVE ALL THE HEROES GONE?

Let's face it, heroes these days have a difficult time staying on their pedestals.
Some heroes seem destined to become one, but we, the public, are often to blame for awarding the title to the wrong people or those who don't really qualify.

A hero is an everyday person who can change the world for the better. It could be a simple act such as helping one person out or by helping millions. There are big heroes known for a particular event, and there are small everyday types of heroes.
However, I think we overuse the term so that the word truly has little meaning.

What makes a hero?
Nelson Mandela was a true hero in every sense of the word.

But suppose I say my mother was a hero because she dutifully followed my daddy all over West and North Texas while he followed the work in the oil fields? She kept us fed, clothed, and happy. She went without a home of her own so we'd all be together.
Even though I loved and appreciated my mother, truthfully she does not come close to being a hero in the same category as Nelson Mandela. In fact, few people are.
But to me? She was a heroine, and my daddy was a hero.


Men, women, and even children are recognized all over our country
on a daily basis as being a "hero."

~*~A sick child with a positive attitude.
~*~A man who catches a baby falling from a third story window.
~*~All the firefighters who battle the mountain forest fires.
~*~The SWAT team who rescued hostages.
~*~A little girl who saves a kitten from a drain pipe.
History has given us time to ferret out true heroes of battles, wars, and liberations. Some have been proven to have clay feet after all.
Perhaps labeling a person a Hero lays a burden on his/her shoulders. How can a person live up to being a hero on a daily basis?

In romance novels, the hero is the important character. The heroine has a great role, too, but it's the male hero on which we focus.

Lucky for us, we have a definite list of What Makes a Western Hero.


Courteous, respectful attitude toward women.
A loner. No close friends, no personal conversations
Rugged face; seldom smiles
Excellent shot
Brave
One companion, usually his horse
Hates rude people and will put them in their place
Great fighter - uses fists
Accepts all races
Traits of a typical Hemingway Hero are:
A love of good times, stimulating surroundings, and strict moral rules, including honesty.
The Hemingway Hero always exhibits some form of a physical wound that serves as his tragic flaw and the weakness of his character.
A Few Texas Heroes:
Stephen F. Austin
Sam Houston
Jack C. Hays
Lorenza de Zavala
Some Heroes of the Cinema:
Atticus Finch-To Kill a Mockingbird-Gregory Peck
Will Kane-High Noon-Gary Cooper
Tom Joad-The Grapes of Wrath-Henry Ford
Rooster Cogburn-True Grit-John Wayne

I'm particularly searching for a true modern hero. We expect our politicians, leaders of any kind, military personnel, and some dissenters to be hero material. Goodness knows, we can't expect that across the board.

Where have all the good ones gone?

Maybe I should lower my expectations of a true hero.

In fact, the heroes I create most often are flawed. I've even written one who abused the woman a little, but I redeemed him, and made him ashamed of what he did. Not one reader ever mentioned that perhaps he was not a good hero.

I think we all know heroes are made, not born, and it's not an easy task to expect one to be 100% true to the calling of a hero.
***
At this moment, my three Texas novels are on special for 99cents each.
The hero in each of these is different.
TEXAS BLUE--the hero is Buck Cameron, the town's "favorite" son, good to everyone, does his job, and stays out of trouble. However, the villain blackmails Buck into a deed he'd rather not do...but he does. The story gets complicated.
TEXAS PROMISE--the hero is Dalton King, son of one of the prominent families in the same town. Yet, he hurts his new bride by running away to join the Texas Rangers. Again...it's complicated.
TEXAS TRUE--the hero is Sam Deleon, and while he might be redeemed eventually, he is a liar, a conniver, and cold. He's the one who was most difficult to redeem...but he did finally come around.


These books may be found on my Amazon page:
Celia Yeary
Romance, and a little bit of Texas


29 comments:

  1. Interesting post, Celia. My husband once said a hero is a man who stays in a family to help raise his kids. I agree about faults. A hero in a story without some faults is uninteresting and unrealistic. Nothing in life is perfect.

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    1. I agree with your husband, as do others. We'd like to think a man staying with his family would be a no-brainer, but in our day and time, this cannot be a guarantee. There are too many worthless men who leave helpless families, and they should be locked up. A good father and husband is a treasure. I had one, for sure, and my husband is one, too. Aren't we lucky?
      Thanks, Linda

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  2. In the literal sense, a hero is those who are in service through the military or domestic such as law enforcement and firemen. They are willing to give the ultimate sacrifice in service.

    In the figurative, and everyday hero is the day who takes time to be there for his family, sacrifices money or personal opportunity so he can be there for a child or to pay for a child's entry fee in a sport or activity, values family above all. Probably a man of Faith. Has integrity, loyalty, honesty, etc... A man worthy of the title: hero.

    denise

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    1. I should really proof my grammar before clicking publish. I hope you will over look my errors and realize they were written in haste.

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    2. Exactly. I don't think I heard the word Hero until I was grown, and now it's used indiscrimately for people who don't deserve the title. I always knew military people were heroic. I like the words, integrity, loyalty, and honesty. Thanks.

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  3. What an exciting subject--heroes. I really had to put some thought into this one. Every time you turn around someone is declared a hero. Maybe it's because we need heroes so desperately.
    The world is a shaky, scary place filled with people who manipulate, lie, steal, kill, and everything else that's mean and rotten under the sun. When we see someone rise up against fear and adversity to own their truth or save another life at the risk of their own, well, that person is certainly better than the thugs who mistreat other people and animals for certain.
    Many of us remember the big AIDS controversy and we all had the assumption that AIDS only happened to gay men. So we began to avoid gay men and became critical, instead of helpful and kind, to those who contracted AIDS. But then along came Ryan, the handsome kid with a pure heart who contracted AIDS from a transfusion and stood up in the face of all that controversy to tell his story and change public opinion. Now that kid was a real hero to me.
    There are others who fight for a cause like Jane Goodall or who stopped mass destruction like the people on that flight over Pennsylvania on 9/11.
    And there are quiet heroes all around us who will run into a burning building or a burning car to save someone. It's a good feeling to know that maybe someone standing beside you in the grocery store or the public library might be one of those heroes.
    This was a great article, Celia. I can always count on you to post something thought provoking.

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    1. Very thoughtful, Sarah...as always. I believe the words you used "rise up against fear and adversity to own their truth or save another life at the risk of their own" more perfectly describes a hero. A child with cancer but has a good attitude is definitely brave, but the word Hero doesn't quite fit. But I won't quarrel with that, because good people do have so many varying ideas and opinions, I think it's find.
      I always wait for you comments which often include thoughts better than mine! Thank you, my friend.

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  4. I think the best heroes have to have flaws, because then in them we can see that one can rise above their flaws to achieve great things. The men I've met that are true heroes often are very flawed, but in those moments when they were needed they answered the call. Great post, Celia!

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    1. Excellent point, and on the mark. Audie Murphy just popped into my mind. He was slightly built, meek, not very strong, but turned into a hero. And there are so many others, as well. Thank you, Kirsten

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  5. I think Sarah hit on something important. Let's expand the term "Heroes" to include those men, women, and children who display a special kind of courage in battling with personal adversity. We many not be able to identify them often, but they walk among us. And they face the same challenges as "traditional" heroes. Their heroism is achieved in quiet dignity and from the shadows of society.

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    1. You've made a good point. I am one who thought of a Hero who reached out to others. But yes, there are many who do walk in the shadows, battling their own demons. I personally know a couple of those kind of people. Thanks Tom...good thoughts.

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  6. I loved this post, Celia. I am blessed with lots of heroes. I've used several of them as heroes in my stories. Some have had handicaps and some not. I think it makes them more interesting if they do have some kind of ailment to overcome.

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    1. Exactly, Paisley. A perfect person has little to overcome..and aren't they the lucky ones. I'm glad you liked the post--it does makes us think of the real heroes in our lives.

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  7. I prefer fictional heroes with a hard shell. It's the heroine's job to break through that tough façade and melt his soft heart. In real life, my father was a hero. He lived with a disability, a clinically paranoid wife and a 10th grade education that prevented him from working in a profession that would have made his life easier. He worked at menial jobs to keep food on our table and stuck around long enough for me to graduate college and marry. Then and only then did he leave for home in his beloved Texas.

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    1. A man who can do all that your father did is truly a hero. I call such people "good", A good man, a good daughter, etc., when I really mean a hero. "Good" is one of my highest complements. God looked for "one good man" in Sodom and found...one.
      I think a man who must make a living at menial jobs has a much tougher job than the educated ones. I've seen this...it can make or break a man, and apparently, it "made" your father. Thanks, Lyn.

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  8. I believe heroes are all around us, Celia. Sometimes the person who struggles quietly is braver than the attention grabber. And take Michael J. Fox and all he's done for medical research. My mom and dad are heroes to me because of all they did to keep me safe and fed. My husband is a hero--and that's what I call him on my personal blog--because he has been and is a wonderful father and husband. That's not a small thing in today's world. I'm sure you feel the same way about Jim.

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    1. True, Caroline. I do. I see good fathers and mother everyday, but I also know a handful I watch regularly because they are men who simply will not, or cannot, care for his wife and children. I just want to hit one of them over the head with a baseball bat! It's criminal, and the wife puts up with it "because of the children." Very sad. Thanks for your comments--I agree.

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  9. Very thoughtful post, Celia. And no, please don't lower your expectations for what makes a true hero. Keep the standards high,for to quote Robert Browning:"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?"

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    1. Okay, I won't. It was just a passing thought. Truthfully, right now in the history of our country, we need to set the bar high for a hero. Lord knows we don't have one.

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  10. A very thought provoking post, Celia. You got me thinking. I believe we all have to capacity to be a hero, to dig down inside ourselves and do the right thing or stand up against the wrong thing even if we're afraid or uncomfortable. If everyone has at least one heroic moment we're all better off. I like my heroes failed, by the way. Much more interesting to see them rise above their struggles. My father was a fireman and did heroic things on the job, and he never hesitated to stand up against the bad guys who were creating havoc in our neighborhood (he was the only one willing to do that); but he wasn't always heroic on the home-front...so maybe that's why I like a flawed hero.

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    1. You're right about this, Patti. Sometimes heroes appear because of some event that happens right in front of them. Some heroes have life-long pursuits that put them in that category, but some heroes are made in an instant, such as saving a child from a burning building. But, true, we all have that capacity. I would hope we could recognize those moments without letting them pass us by. Thanks for the thoughts about your father. Very touching.

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  11. Your post, Celia, brought on lots of "food for thought" and great comments from your readers. Something that came to my mind when thinking of heroes and the meaning of heroism centered on one date, September 11.

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    1. And so it is. Very true for many of us. It's amazing when you stop and remember how many showed extreme, extraordinary bravery--especially those passengers on the plane in Pennsylvania. That scenario still gives me cold chills to this day. Thanks, Cheri.

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  12. A wonderful thing to consider. What makes a hero? A hero is the first one to respond in time of crises. Unlike the peron who stands glued to the spot wringing his/her hands and wondering where he/she can hide. LOL.

    He/She must posess a strong moral character. Honesty, loyalty, sensitivity, and persistence. A hero NEVER gives up the fight even when it looks as if all is lost.

    He/She may come to the rescue of a small animal or save a child from a burning building. No matter how small the act, he/she is still a hero.

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    1. Oh, yes, Lauren. You said this so well. I thank you for reading and making this wonderful comment. Love you.

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  13. When I was growing up in the 60's, we thought of heroes as Batman, Superman, the OBVIOUS--it never occurred to me to think of even Atticus Finch as a "hero".

    As I grew older and listened to my mom and dad talk about WWII I remember my mom describing some of the battles/men there as heroes. That was a new concept to me--that a real live PERSON could be a hero! Without superpowers!

    It has truly taken me a lifetime to realize how many different kinds of heroes there are--and I'm sure there are some that I've overlooked yet. There are so many ways to BE heroic, and so many situations that a hero can be found in.

    My dad worked in the oilfields as a chemical engineer. Day and night, any hour, if they called, he went. Sometimes he'd be gone for 3 or 4 days at a time--this was before cellphones. Out on these old deserted country roads, in the mud, in the rain, in the snow and in the burning Oklahoma heat. Dad was highly educated, for the times. He had left college just shy of one semester of his degree to go teach highschool math in Idabel, OK. He could have done so many things. But he had a family to take care of and this was a steady familiar job that not a lot of people could do. At one point, he wanted to go to California and teach -- and we had relatives in the school system out there who could assure him a job. But Mom did not want to leave her family --family meant more to her than to him, I think, and he wanted to see more of the world. He reminded me of George Bailey in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE--he never got to see all the things he wanted to. Another time, one of my uncles wanted him to move back to southeastern OK and go into the cattle business with him. Dad wanted to do it, but for some reason, Mom didn't. He gave up EVERYTHING for his family. And no one worked harder than he did to provide for us.

    He wasn't perfect. He was an alcoholic, but not an abusive one. But he almost lost his job over it. And he and my mom talked about divorce at one time.

    In spite of it all, I think he did the very best he could do in every situation, and he eventually gave up alcohol AND smoking--both very hard habits to quit. Although he never was in a war (his lungs were too bad to be drafted in WWII)he showed heroism in daily life.

    This was a great blog post, Celia. And I've sure enjoyed the comments, too!

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    1. This is a wonderful tribute to your dad, Cheryl. I loved my daddy...I was a daddy's girl...and he, too, gave up being at home every night so Mother and we three girls could finally have a permanent home. (we were homeless for 6 years--you've read some of my ramblings about that.) As a kid in the fifties, I never knew the meaning of Hero..never thought of anyone as one--even the cowboy heros in the old westerns. I think most of us learned the true meaning of hero ad adults. By then, we had earlier models to place in that category. My mother was, too, because she sent daddy off early every Monday morning, and welcomed him home every Friday afternoon with his favorite food and lots of loving and kisses. He did this for decades, even after we three girls left home. Drove all over west Texas, and stayed in motels and ate café food. My heart hurts for him when I think of how lonely that was. You'd think my daddy might have taken to drink, but he never touched a drop.
      I always love your comments--they're so enlightening.

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  14. I like heroes, which I guess is why I always hated movies about gangsters and had no interest in watching the Sopranos. I like to see the good guy triumph, plain and simple. At the same time, I never really got into The Lone Ranger, as the character was so good and flawless he seemed unreal to me. To me, real heroes are the folks who, though not perfect, manage to do the right thing the majority of the time. Sometimes they stumble, or have their vices, but the true nature of their character seems to shine through, regardless. And besides, a flawed hero is more interesting and ultimately, easier for a reader to identify with.

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  15. Before I started learning the craft of writing, I didn't think of heroes other than the Greek Heroes who were half human and half god (Theseus, Herakles, Perseus, Achilles, et al) and Audie Murphy types. The exception to that in my mind was my Dad's brother who was killed in the final days of WWII. They always spoke about him with a degree of reverence, but they never called him a hero.

    Another question in the more shallow sense of heroes is where have all the heartthrobs gone? Who's the new Clint Walker, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Sean Connery, Yul Brynner, Gary Cooper, Steve McQueen? Tom Selleck and Sam Elliot are still working but they're getting up there. So is Hamilton Ford. I just don't see a new crop of movie actor heroes emerging. Maybe I'm too spoiled.

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