The Time of Heroism

I still remember that morning when the incredible, astonishing truth was revealed to us, the truth you have come to know so intuitively and intimately. I watched it live on the wall-mounted television, sitting silently with my peers in the company cafeteria, the air still and cold, some of us sipping coffee. After some introductory remarks (dominated by the discouraging conditions of the economy, the nation’s morale and the environment; yes, in that order), our leader announced this simple, defining, revolutionary fact. We are all heroes. More precisely, we are all latent heroes, all capable of championing myriad causes, each in our own way. It was a shocking revelation, one long suppressed by generations of oligarchic rule for fear that this crucial knowledge would jeopardize their power. But now they realized they were in desperate need of heroics, to undo the dilapidation their elitism had incurred on us all.

My peers and I looked at one another, in awe that here we were face to face with actual heroes. Naively, we were excited to take up our roles as heroes.

But it was too late. While we had and could feel the instincts of heroism within us, they had not been nurtured, had not matured, and had instead withered in most. We had all been so marginalized in our stations of life, with a sense of insignificance inculcated into us, innate heroism overshadowed, in some by fear, in others by greed and egotism. Most of us did not know what to do with our infantile powers. The generation of heroism our leaders had hoped to unleash in one mighty wave of raw, redemptive human spirit resulted in a mere trickle of those who, miraculously amid all the atrophied might, could rise to the challenge. They applied themselves in all ways possible, utterly overwhelmed by the terrible burden they had inherited, that we had all inherited but only they could really bear any significant part of. These heroes were spread thin, working in the places that needed them most, at all times overexerted, exhausted.

Yet, all was not lost. A few of them began to teach the development of heroism, of the capabilities and strengths they had fostered in themselves and each other, empirically, slowly, painfully. That too was exceedingly difficult, communicating in often uncertain terms what they had only recently rediscovered to so many pupils, with so many expectations riding on them. But over time, through their dedicated work, the invaluable knowledge of these heroes was imparted upon and then further developed by countless diligent proteges. And so it was that heroism was finally achieved, not in our time, but in yours, as you grew up and began to rescue us all from our long, dark history.

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