We Need a Hero

One of the most discussed details emerging from the horrible tragedy in Aurora is the acts of heroism displayed by a few young men. There is consistent and reliable information to corroborate three distinct examples of men acting as human shields for women in close proximity. Of course we don’t know for certain if these stories of ultimate sacrifice are completely accurate. There is plenty of historical precedence for sensationalism in the midst of tragedy. In situations like this we earnestly seek decency and humanity in contrast to such senseless evil and disregard for others.

My point in this blog is not to argue for or against the validity of such stories. I have no tangible reason to doubt they are true. My point is to simply examine our almost insatiable appetite for a hero, as revealed by our fascination with stories like these. It should not be lost on us those unsuspecting people in that theater waited in line at midnight to be one of the first to see a movie about what? Their favorite hero.

It is reasonable to assume such a universal desire comes from a universal source. Some may argue we are creatures of convention and our environment shapes our desires. At the very least, we can assume there are intrinsic building blocks in human nature which reveal symmetry in our definition of heroism. It may be impossible to confirm the source of such consistency, but ideals that permeate age, race, gender, geography and time have historically been considered innately human.

Given humanity’s tendency to hold in high regard the qualities of a hero (such as self sacrifice, strength, valor, etc.) we should not be surprised when we experience deep emotional responses to examples of heroism as it seems to touch a part of our souls that unites us with hope that there is something worth fighting for, something triumphantly good. CS Lewis felt this longing for such qualities to be nothing short of confirmation of the truth of the gospel. Consider this explanation from Lewis when asked about his impression of mythology;

“Dyson and Tolkien showed me…that if I met the idea of sacrifice in a Pagan story I didn’t mind it at all…I liked it very much and was mysteriously moved by it…I was prepared to feel the myth as profound and suggestive of meanings beyond my grasp tho’ I could not say in cold prose ‘what it meant.’ Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth…the Pagan stories are God expressing Himself through the minds of poets…while Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call ‘real things’”. 

Obviously, literary mythology is not as mainstream as it once was. It is more appropriate to consider movies as the medium of modern day mythology and poetry. We have an all too real manifestation of the spectrum of the deeper longings of humanity within the tragic event in Aurora. The backdrop is a film where a director has put forth prose of a modern story about sacrifice, salvation, resurrection and redemption. There were at least three women who experienced the grace of the ultimate sacrifice in a life given up for theirs. The men who gave up their lives obviously had but a moment to instinctually fulfill a role they undoubtedly pondered in the past; “could I give my life up for another?”. In, around and through this terrible event is the evidence of our longings. To tell the story of a hero, to be saved by a hero, to fulfill the role of hero. CS Lewis would say those longings are only satisfied in the one true hero.

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