Saturday, April 28, 2007

The End of Heroism?

Writing Assignment - Argumentative Essay - Topic: Heroes and Icons

So it is said, we are living in a world without heroism. They say the world today has no need for heroes and no place for them either. Or, does it? On April 16, a tragedy witnessed a hero: Professor Liviu Librescu, a 76-year-old Holocaust survivor, threw himself in front of the murderer and saved the lives of his students. His act of bravery brings the matter of heroism to light again.

To begin the argument about the need for heroism, one must first define what heroism is. If it is the magnificent being of an absolute superior such as Alexandra the Great or Napoleon Bonaparte, then it is true that the time for heroism has long passed, but individuals such as Liviu Librescu redefined the heroism of our time. Rather than being something we hold in awe, heroism has become an inspiration.

We need this inspiration because we are “weak”. We are losing ourselves in a world where materialism and individualism prevail; we have become more and more self-centric. A common street scene would be a circle of spectators gathering around a hit-and-run victim but none of them would have the incentive to send the victim to the hospital. When asked why not do so, they are most likely to answer: “The others didn't do it, why me?” or “What if the hospital demands me to pay the medical bill?” as if such answers justify what is really indifference and low-morality. Human relationship has become a reciprocal one. It is increasingly difficult for people to trust others and to be trusted. In such times, heroism is most critical for it wakes “the indifferent” and imbues people with faith and confidence in their peers.

We need this inspiration because we are, after all, hopeful. Despite the fact that 560 people have been dying in Iraq every day, equivalent to one death every three minutes , despite the 200,000 deaths caused by the conflicts in the western region of Sudan , people are still hopeful to the future. In fact, the more hostile the world seems, the more in need people are of heroes. Moreover, in situations like this, some people become what they've never thought they could be. They stand up to the challenge and respond with great courage and dignity. Think about the man who dived three times into the water to save two strangers; think about the firemen on Ground Zero on that fateful day; think about the construction workers on the highest railroad in the world. If the world is a cruel one, we can only respond to it with a hopeful heart.

Spiderman is not going to save us. Liviu Librescu may. So long as the earth spins, we still need heroes.

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