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Friday, April 13, 2007

Great Men and Sacrifice

If great men are willing to make a sacrifice to save the world, by what measure must we weigh such sacrifice?
image is from heroeswiki

Hitler united an entire nation, and bound it to an ideal of a "Superior Race". That was a great thing and yet we can all agree it was certainly evil. Would we... as a species be so moved by the trials, the hardships, the difficulty of Hitler's war that upon ending his evil, vowed to ensure that such war never happen again? (Though certainly there have been many little wars and many wars on a genocidal scale since then, but are more contained, my point being is that we are at least trying.)

Jesus, whether you believe him to be a mythic figure, a prophet, a man, man-God/Messiah did great things in His life. He started a religion and continues to inspire followers to this day. He did great and good things. He changed the world, for the better and whether you believe in Him or not... our world today remain fully influenced by His ideal.

The Roman Catholic Church in the last 2,000 years has done many great things, many good things. Looking back with our "modern ethics", how often do we cringe at the Church's bloody history? Still given the context of those times, such things were the ethics of the day and the Church has done a lot to make it a better world.

Literature, particularly science fiction has a fascinating history of evil villains or if you prefer, anti-heroes. We somehow relate to them.

The Batman is perhaps the most famous of the Anti-Heroes. Dark, brooding, he uses fear and intimidation and manipulation to achieve victory, contrast against Superman's "bright", hope-filled nature. Yet the more popular of the two, and more fascinating is The Dark Knight.

Leto Atreides II and his father, Paul from the Dune universe are perfect examples of anti-heroes. The father wrestled an empire and let loose a jihad across an entire universe. The son when he succeeded his father, created four thousand years of peace and when Leto II died, an era of great famine followed his peace. It was part of his Golden Path, that humanity would be forced to migrate and with it, an explosion of humanity across the universe. And he did it not out of spite but knowing the humanity must evolve if it was to survive future challenges.

Darth Vader was the armored villain of Star Wars that everybody loved, even before we knew of his backstory. His Helmet and his voice was perhaps more famous than Luke Skywalker, outside of the fandom.

Vader's master, Lord Sidious was the master of planning, deceit and treachery. He was the epitome of all the dictators and evil villains that ever were. Yet how he rose to power is no different from say, Hitler. The latter, was after all elected, in a fair, democratic way as was Sidious' road to power.

In present day sci-fi, it is the rise of Linderman that is of such fascination. Here was a man, with wealth and with power. I'm not talking about super-powers. Linderman has power. He uses people like chess pieces, and his stratagem's end goal point to one thing: world domination. Is he villain or anti-hero? In "Parasite", in a very Sidiously way, he began his manipulation of Nathan Petrelli. Like Anakin Skywalker and many such heroes... Nathan is naturally tempted.

Leaders have to believe that their way is the right way. And all leaders, to be a good one, have to consciously or not, know these words Linderman spoke of: "To be truly happy, a man must live absolutely in the present. No thought of what's gone before and no thought of what lies ahead. But, a life of meaning... a man is condemned to wallow in the past and obsess about the future."

Linderman was right. Think about it: strip away all things from a man, let him live in a desert island with only simple pleasures and he'll be happy. Yet how many of us can actually say we can? Like all heroes, anti or otherwise, we worry about what the future will bring and like Anakin Skywalker, Bruce Wayne, Nathan and Peter Petrelli and like Hiro Nakamura, obsess and do all in our power to forestall it.

I have only one point in all this. Let me ask you this: in Philippine society today, how often do we obsess about our future and how often do we concern ourselves with our past/traditions?

Great men lay their lives down, sure. Often, is not the greater sacrifice living such unhappy lives, taking on risks and trials---- suffering so that others may have happy or at least better lives? Anti-Hero or Villain, Linderman has a point: "great men are willing to sacrifice to save the world." Do you have what it takes to be great?


missingpoints said...

Have you read Brian Vaughan's "Ex-Machina?" About an ex-superhero who runs as mayor of New York? Lots of great insights on heroism and what it means to make a difference.

Cocoy said...

nope. i'll go search for it ;) thanks!