Next thursday, CNN will reward ten people, selected by its audience, because of their astounding achievments in helping other people. The giant of the news call them "heroes", real heroes, who make this world a better place in many ways. We can read in the network's ads a curious phrase: "in these times, when heroes are mostly needed...". I understand from those words that in our time, more than before, heroes are needed. Why? Are our times so wrong that we need so much these "heroes"? Or it is just a common phrase, a cliche message, to sell the ceremony?
Well... I think there is melodrama in that ad. It is not true we did not need "heroes" before.
Every time, every century, has its own disasters, and heroes appear when they are needed, just because our nature is like this. We have an important feature in our genes: solidarity & cooperation once saved us from the extinction many, many years ago, and they continue saving our lives in the present time. There is not difference between that time and our time. In fact, we are safer today than any other time in the history. So, why they say we need heroes more than ever?
I think there is a perception biased to tragedy in our time, more than before (say, for example, in the 60's, with the hippie idealism). It is not our fault. It is not the fault of anybody. It just this general sensation of failing: we have failed in defending the human rights, we have failed in defending our climate, we have failed in prospering in every country, we have failed in preventing cruel wars and terrible genocides, etc. So, we have failed. And this feeling is stronger now, when a new ecomonic crisis has beaten our system and so many people have lost their jobs and their homes. We need, more than ever, fantasy in our lives.
Which fantasy? Any one. It is not entirely coincidence that fantasy novels, including romances and super heroes stories, are so succesful in best-sellers list. It is not strange that so many inspirational stories about real heroes or people who have succeded in spite of multiple obstacles are so well sold. People need to read, to hear or to watch extraordinary stories, with real heroes prevailing over all the obstacles they face in their lives. These "real" heroes are not necessarily "real": they just need to be as any of us (although is a fictional character) to atract followers. For example, Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamyi from The Lord of the Rings. They are two insignificant little men, with no special powers, no special warrior skills, who go armored with their will and their tenacity and destroy the most powerful and evil enemy they will ever see. That kind of heroism is delightful to us right now. Why the 33 Chilean miners are so admired, so known around the world? Because they were strong when anyone else would fail, and they have no special powers either, just as Frodo and Sam.
When this necessity of fantasy will pass? I do not know. Maybe in the future, when we finally resolve our major problems. Maybe never. But this is the time given to us...