He recalled the heroes of his youth–the books he had read, the movies he had seen–and how he had thrilled to see courageous men and women risk everything for a truth they believed, while the world around them laughed, scorned, pitied, or attacked.
He remembered that there had always been someone nearby to ridicule, to scoff, or to sneer at his heroes–someone to remark that real life was not like that, that heroes did not exist, that good guys finish last–and he had not argued.
Now he understood that in failing to argue he had not been agreeing nor accepting what they were saying; he knew he had never been convinced. He had believed then and still believed that heroes do exist and that they are the only winners in life.
It was becoming clear to him that should a man who did not believe in heroes, hold a belief an ideal, he must lack any incentive to uphold his truth against the opposition of public opinion, laughter, or scorn. And after he had betrayed it, any victory of his truth must then be a reproach to him. It would become another’s victory; because the ultimate victory or defeat of truth lies in every person individually. One may uphold one’s truth or betray it. And any victory belongs to the one who upholds it.
He realized now that in every book or movie involving a hero, the happy ending, the victory, the story of a hero’s triumph of good over evil had merely been presented as an incentive to spark another’s heroism.
The hero’s first reward was personal–the knowledge that he had, against all opposition remained true to his own truth and ideals.
And now he knew what he had been wanting all his life. He had wanted to be the hero–not the emulation of other heroes–the hero in his own life. That was why he could never compromise when others could, and why he had never understood their compromises.
Now he understood. They had never believed in heroes, nor expected to be one. But he had. He realized now that he must be his own hero. Anything less would be waste of his life and the worst kind of failure.
Others might achieve more or greater victories than he; that did not matter. What did matter, and had always mattered, was that he remain true to himself, to his principles, to his own truth, and that he strive to achieve the best within himself–for the hero inside him that demanded his best, and would settle for nothing less.