Monday, October 11, 2010

"fake heroes"

As if it weren't enough trying to pin down who a true hero might be, the U.S. Justice Department has taken on the issue of fake heroes.

A couple of excerpts from the story:

-- The Stolen Valor Act makes it a crime punishable by up to a year in jail to falsely claim to have won a military medal, whether or not an impostor seeks financial gain. 
--  The Stolen Valor Act, which breezed through Congress in 2006, revised and toughened an existing statute that forbade anyone to wear a military medal that was not earned.

"Stolen valor" ... wrap your mind around that. To claim there are fake heroes implies by definition that someone knows who the real heroes are at the same time that those considered "heroes" would be the first to dismiss any heroics. And suggesting that medals are the yardstick for heroism is the kind of thing only a chair-warmer could imagine.

And yet there is a longing and an insistence and a need to have heroes, whether or not those heroes agree: Somehow I am raised up by imputing heroism....

And maybe the same is true in spiritual endeavor: It is encouraging to assess and elevate those who are "holy" or "enlightened" or "compassionate" or ... well, pick a medal, any medal. To choose a hero is to encourage my own thoughts and actions -- to act better, speak better, live better. But does such an encouragement make the assessment true? How would the object of our praises and affections reflect on such instruments of valor?

I'm not saying that heroes and saints are a bad idea. But I do think they are only a good idea as measured by the thoughts, words and deeds of those who choose to name them. Other than that, it all strikes me as hot air and a consoling fraud.

But maybe I've missed something.


  1. You missed, and not that you might have. You did miss the fact heroes are ones who cools you down when you overheat, and provide you a warm blanket when you are old. What else are heroes for?

    In RPG games. There are kinds. Warriors, archers, holy men and healers. And holy warriors.

    Assuming the best stance can reflecting you are a possessor of the worst character. But also, it can reflect you are already enlightened.


  2. My great grandparents are my hero's and heroines. Their portraits, over one hundred years old hang beneath a northern window, and light up in day with the morning sun's reflections off the cedar deck. They had the drive to come to the states, and I am grateful every time I see their images, though in the past, still alive today. So now I bow to them, alive forever in dedication and resolve for change on uncommon ground.

  3. When I first joined the military, during the first night they assigned me a bed without a blanket. Everybody else had one. I was sleeping at bed#1, beside the window where the cold air would blow in. So upset I was, I would have gone berserk. Then a gentleman, name was Benson, in the next bunk also sleeping at bed #1, said he would wait for any spare blankets, and he gave his to me.

    I was staring at the ceiling the whole night, but I did not know why I couldn't sleep.


  4. I imagine that a pretty girl who worships me, waiting for me to save her, would ask me if I was a hero during my army days. She needs a hero to believe in, I need to reassure myself that I can be that hero although it was another guy who was protecting me all along.