I was reading Emerson’s essay on Heroism this weekend and wanted to quote two items from it. I encourage you to read it, as well as many more of his essays. The Kindle version of his first series of essays is available here for free.
While heroism abounds around us in forms other than that of the soldier, in our society of celebrity/professional athlete worship and cynical politics the soldier is our most readily available example of this virtue. Flawed yes, he or she is a hero because they quickly will acknowledge their foibles while the aforementioned media personalities do not, or are not prompted by the media to admit them. Soldiers and/or religious persons begin their scrutiny under the assumption of fault and are forced to prove otherwise and climb out of the muck of this perspective. Celebrities start from the opposite end of the scale and upon a pedestal and are more quickly forgiven when they inevitably fall.
Funny ol’ world.
A hero is not fed on sweets,
Daily his own heart he eats;
Chambers of the great are jails,
And head winds right for royal sails.
The heroic soul does not sell its justice and its nobleness. It does not ask to dine nicely, and to sleep warm. The essence of greatness is the perception that virtue is enough. Poverty is its ornament. It does not need plenty, and can very well abide its loss.