Why We Need Heroes

I am currently playing my soundtrack playlist on Spotify, and on this playlist I have everything from Doctor Who to Avengers to Lord of the Rings (am I supposed to italicize movie titles and TV shows? googling… Yes. I am supposed to italicize movie titles and TV shows. My english major self should know that). I’m listening to this playlist full of soundtracks because, 1) I need something without words to listen to when I write, 2) these soundtracks are from some of my favorite movies and TV shows. These movies and shows are movies and shows that portray heroes, and the good in humanity fighting the bad. Okay, the Doctor is actually Gallifreyan, but he has human qualities so just leave me alone, okay? And not every Avenger is human either, but that doesn’t matter–there’s no need to nitpick, guys. The point is, I like stories with heroes in them. It gives me hope that if people can write about characters like this, maybe characters like this can exist in real life.

Just because these worlds don’t exist doesn’t mean that heroes can’t exist. Let’s just talk about MCU’s Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, for a bit, can we? Steve Rogers is an amazing character. Some people don’t like him because he’s “too perfect.” To be honest, though, that’s why I like him so much. Because he’s relatable, sure, but he’s more someone to look up to, someone to strive to be more like than someone to relate to. He holds to certain ideals and never wavers.

I know I’m asking a lot. But the price of freedom is high. It always has been. And it’s a price I’m willing to pay. And if I’m the only one, then so be it. But I’m willing to bet I’m not.

If you haven’t seen The Winter Soldier  and don’t know what was going on in the scene I just quoted, he is trying to encourage others to fight for what’s right, not just do the easy thing. Because that’s what he’s about. Also,

I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies; I don’t care where they’re from.

His entire character can be described by that line. He doesn’t like bullies. He’ll fight, but he’ll fight if he sees injustice or wrong in the world. He doesn’t fight just to fight.

Basically, what I’m saying is that heroes are important. Especially the heroes that we can look up to, and strive to be more like. Because those are the heroes that inspire us to greatness, to achieve marvelous goals, and push us to be better people. People like Steve Rogers, or Lucy Pevensie, or the Doctor are characters that I constantly look at and think, “I want to be more like that person.”

If you’ll allow me to ramble again, let’s just think about Lucy Pevensie for a moment. First of all, I relate to her so much, because of her imagination, and her enthusiasm, and just everything about her is so admirable. But I also look up to her a great deal. She is the youngest, the smallest, but she has the strongest faith, the most hope, out of all the Pevensie children. She trusts Aslan when all the others don’t even see him. In her mind, the best thing about Narnia is Aslan.

“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”
“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.
“Are -are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”
― CS Lewis The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

In the end of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, she just starts sobbing when she discovers that she can never return to Narnia, not beause she’ll never see Narnia again, but because she won’t see Aslan again. Her faith and love for Aslan is just amazing, and is something that we as Christians should strive towards more.

But why am I going on this rant about heroes and admirable literary characters? Well, to be honest with you guys, it’s because I need to remind myself of the heroes I look up to right now. Because I’m seeing a lot of bad things happening in the world: the murder of Christina Grimmie, the Orlando shooting (which has been labeled the worst mass shooting in modern American history), the current election cycle, terrorism around the globe, and the current moral state of our country, for starters. I don’t see a lot of people doing what’s right instead of what’s easy. Sometimes, I see all of this and start to lose hope in humanity. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” contains a verse that expresses my exact sentiments:

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

This is why I need to hear about heroes. Because, as CS Lewis said so well,

Since it is so likely children will meet cruel enemies let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.

Brave knights and heroic courage can do wonders for the soul. Sometimes, all I need to do is read a book, or watch a movie, and I’m alright. Brave knights and heroic courage in stories remind us that we are capable of such bravery and heroism too. They remind us of the things we are capable of, and they give us courage to do what’s right. They lead by example. But they also remind us of the true Hero of the greatest story, the story of redemption from sin and death into life throught Christ Jesus. Ephesians 4b-8 says,

In love, he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight

We were saved by the perfect Savior, who has the whole world in his hands. We have the perfect hero who saved us from the wrath of God brought onto us by our sin. The Psalms sing of the power of God over creation, an example of which is Psalm 47:2, which says,

For the LORD, the Most HIgh, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.

We have a sovereign God who rules over all creation, and has everything in His power. We have nothing to fear, and we know that God has a plan for everything that happens in life. We also know that we have been saved from sin by the righteousness of Christ, so that we may have a new life in heaven. See, all true heroes, whether in books or in movies, point to the true hero that is Christ Jesus, consciously or unconsciously. Every true hero story points to Him. In the Chronicles of Narnia, the true hero is Aslan, who is a symbol of Christ. In Lord of the Rings, Gandalf and Aragorn are two of the great heroes of the story, both being symbols of Christ. Even Steve Rogers shows us the true hero in his stories, through his morality, ‘old-fashioned’ ideals, and many other good characteristics that remind us of the nature of Christ. For the true hero is the one that we should look up to as our role model. Christ is the only person that we should compare ourselves to and strive to be most like. He is a role model, but He is the hero of the story and the one who can help us in anything.

The last stanza of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day” reminds us of the hope we have in Christ,

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”


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