to be a hero

When I read the literature of the late 19th and early 20th century, I find that the use of words was bent on eulogising and character building, like it is in epic literature, wherein heroic deeds or events are sung. An ancient paradigm, showcasing the best of human nature and cultural significance. Folk poetry was ethnic, in the sense that the narrated contexts were close to man - not far away, as in today's ideals, which are often shown as belonging to everything that one is not. In the 19th century, there was a wish to uncover these roots - and thus the birth of Romantic nationalism.
But there was a shift in Romanticism from seeking to do what was best for the general will of the people to acting for the benefit of self-improvement. While there is nothing ostensibly wrong with that goal, it does imply that we can be entirely responsible for ourselves, which I think is untrue.
Let me give an example. Think of a friend you have known for a long time. Aren't there at least a few instances you can think of where you were not ideal towards them? But, if someone were to ask them about you, wouldn't they say: oh, my friend is so kind and wonderful?
In this instance, our friends save us from ourselves. They redeem us from the context that would otherwise harm us. Through love, there is the wish to eulogise, a movement towards the panegyric. We're all in this together; to praise someone else is also, in a way, to praise oneself.
To say "I have the power to make my day good or bad," is a delusion. We do not have such power. We do have the ability to choose our wishful orientation, however. You cannot dictate whether someone will jostle you on the bus, but you can choose whether you wish for that to influence your whole day, which is not to say one should expect to recover immediately; how unkind we can be to ourselves.
In early 20th century literature, there was an attempt to highlight noteworthy individuals, a deliberate attempt to show them as role-model worthy. Today, the press is bent on tearing down whoever is in the limelight. "Look," the press/vox populi seems to want to say, "not only is his person one of us, they are worse than we are!"
I think we are in need of heroes - of epic stories that relate to us our modern day role models. It was such a short time ago that we sung such praises - they were still being sung when I was a child. There was Mother Theresa, for example! And now, it is as if we have lost hope in humanity.
Narration of heroic deeds includes the story of the struggle: the obstacles to be overcome if one is to reach one's goals. I wrote about that in a previous post. Such narration uses words like "powerful physique" (are we doing our exercises!), "enormous endurance," "moral purity," "steadiness" and "imagination." These are all words I have found in early 20th century news articles.
Not all of us are called to be heroes, but we are all called to tell the stories. "It is a noble employment to rescue from oblivion those who deserve to be remembered," writes Pliny the Younger (Letters IV). Whose praises would you sing?

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