The Expanse Series: Heroes

“‘I was unconscious at the time, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Heroism is a label most people get for doing shit they’d never do if there were really thinking about it,'” (Abandon’s Gate by James S. A. Corey, chapter 32 page 338).

So I watch a lot of fantastical, superhero movies. I know from them that a hero is someone who sacrifices themselves and the things they love for the “greater good”, whatever that means to them. Google says a hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding g achievements, or noble qualities. But does a person have to intend to do something heroic or can it be an accident or even just perceived as heroic? In this small chapter of Abaddon’s Gate, a soldier talked about how he was receiving a medal for losing two limbs while trying to help seven trapped civilians. What the awarding party failed to care about was the soldier had been passed out drunk and had floated over to “the right door” making it appear he was helping. He then goes on to say people are seen as Hero’s for doing things they wouldn’t normally do if they had reasoned it out.

So I ask, does it matter what was intended? Does heroism depend solely on perception?

One of my psychology professors in university said that people have beliefs and they have actions. When their actions don’t align with their beliefs, they tend to change their beliefs. For example, I believe it is a sin to have sex before I’m married but I am having sex and I’m not married so I change my belief to most people have sex before they are married so God must not think it’s that big a deal. If we apply this to heroism, we can see why people might believe unheroic people are brave heroes. We think heroes are perfect, goodhearted people, but they cause damage to the city and harm comes to innocent bystanders. So we change our belief to heroes cause the most good to come from a situation. That leaves room for bad people or unintentionally good people to be heroes. So maybe perception is really the only thing that matters to humans. We believe what we see is what was meant, so good things must come from good people, even when it doesn’t.

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