The Hero is a Villain in Disguise

The Hero is a Villain in Disguise

When we were younger, we all dreamed of having super powers, right? Everyone wanted to be like Superman or Batman and save people. As kids, it seems, we are able to get away with such fantasies. We always asked someone to play the villain while we were the knight in shining armor and saved the innocent bystander. This childish scenario, like many scenarios of our childhood, has an adult counterpart, one that is much more serious:

"The act of being a hero or a savior cannot be realized without the existence of clear and distinct evil. Therefore, those that wish to save the world also wish for the existence of an evil in this world to threaten the peaceful lifestyle of its inhabitants. The act of wanting to save someone is exactly the same as wishing for that same someone to face danger."

When simply glanced at, this statement seems ludicrous. No one would ever want someone to face danger just to save them. However, the more it is looked at, the more the statement prevails to be true. The first thing that perseveres is the first sentence. This part seems true in two ways. The first, more obvious one is that, without evil in the world, who would need a savior? Even Jesus came down to save us from the evils that surround us, correct? Without those evils corrupting our hearts and souls, would he have needed to sacrifice himself? So, the simple act of being a hero, regardless of the desire, truly cannot be realized without evil in this world. The second reason is that, without evil, even if someone were to be saved, no one would recognize it. Heroes are always recognized for their works, whether they're wearing masks or not. People would just see it as being a good citizen and leave it at that. There wouldn't be anything extraordinary about it. Lao-Tzu once stated, "Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself." The same can be said about good, in a sense. When there is nothing to oppose good, then no one will see it as being good because there is nothing to compare it to. Therefore, the title of "Hero" or "Savior" is only used when there is an evil presence in the world.

The sentence that follows the first is a little more complicated than its predecessor. It uses the first sentence to reason what it has to say. Would anyone who truly wanted to save someone really want to have an evil threaten the world? When you save someone, you're protecting them from evil, so why would they want something like that? The answer isn't as hard as it sounds; as a matter of fact, the answer was really given within the quote: because they need evil in order to claim the title of Hero. If we begin with that desire, then that must mean that we know or hope for something in this world to threaten others. If all we want is to be known as a hero, then our desire is selfish and lacks compassion (like in the Dalai Lama), and, as everyone knows, actions made without compassion lead to destruction. If saving people is their intentional desire, then yes, I would say that, for them, that which is in the quote is true. Saving someone when the problem arises is different; there is no selfishness in that action. The only thing I can say they have is compassion. Much like in The Aim of Men, there is a difference between starting with that desire and events leading up to that desire. I am sure of this, and the reason I can have so much confidence is because I have experienced first hand what this quote is talking about.

As I said earlier, when we are children we tend to have dreams of being a superhero. I, on the other hand, continue to have dreams like this, though not necessarily about being a superhero. I save people I care about, or I take the pain that was meant for them and make it my own. To do this, I imagine them being in strange and dangerous situations which only I can save them from. When I think about it, I always feel bad for putting them in danger because I know that I would never actually want them to have to face such things. To me, their safety is much more important than being noticed as a hero. I would rather there not be any existence of evil in the world to threaten them than have to save them from it. However, I am also certain that there are others whose desire for this may override their logical conscious. There are some that might be willing to go to such extremes as to want evil to exist. "Yet man prays for evil as fervently as he prays for good," as is said in The Koran: The Night Journey. So that qualifies the second sentence of the statement, but what of the last?

In the beginning, my opinion was that this statement was obviously wrong. However, as I progressed, I came to realize that what it had to say might actually be right. I began to wonder, "Why did I think they were so different?" When reading this last part, again I thought of it as some crazy statement. Obviously, saving someone and endangering someone are two very different things. But, "God considered not action, but the spirit of the action. It is the intention, not the deed, wherein the merit or praise of the doer consists." So, while the actions may be different, the intention may be the same, which could make the last part true as well. And yet, it is that exact same quote that makes the entire statement wrong.

In short, while some may desire for evil in this world in order to save people, these people are not considered "heroes" or "saviors" because they lack compassion. Their intentions are not pure, and no one can actually save anyone without such a vital emotion. They are just people who want to be admired, and the real heroes are the ones that act without thinking of the rewards (although they often receive them afterwards.) That simple fact disproves the entire statement from the beginning, leaving our heroic careers behind with our childhood.