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Free Liberal: Coordinating towards higher values

Free Liberal

Coordinating towards higher values

Heroes and Villains

by Richard A. Cheatham, Press Media Group, LLC

I’m on the road again, this time in Arkansas where I’m speaking on heroes. I maintain that the people we honor as our heroes, and detest as villains, say a lot about us as individuals.

Some people simply adopt the heroes their family, friends and neighbors venerate. Heroes adopted in that way are more casually duplicated than consciously chosen. That’s sadly the lazy way many, if not most, people come to have heroes.

I also maintain that people are not born good people or bad people. I believe they become good or bad by the adoption of good ideas and values or bad ones. Of course, which ideas and values are good and which ones are bad is a very subjective judgment going to the very core of who we are as individuals.

We run a tremendous risk when we simply adopt the values of others. There are actually people living today for whom Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin were heroes. It may be difficult for us to comprehend now, but this was definitely the case. These men and others like them were seen by millions as saviors of “their people,” their societies, their countries. These men were thought to be worthy of emulating and following. If they weren’t, what explains the massive power placed in their hands?

One certainly must make a distinction between heroes and significant people. It’s one thing for a person to be worthy of our veneration and serving as our models. It’s a very different thing for a person to be one whose decisions and actions have been pivotal in history, creating major consequences, perhaps even radically changing the course of world history. We don’t (and shouldn’t) necessarily adopt a person as a hero based upon their simply doing significant things.

We today look at Hitler and other leaders from the perspective of history. We today see Hitler as a great villain. The “good guys” have beaten the “bad guys” from his time. For many people, the winners of any conflict are the ones we look to in order to define our heroes and villains. The winners are always virtuous and good and the losers evil and bad, right?

All this has to do with personal values and actions. Do we always think deeply about them? Have we perfectly synchronized our values with our adopted heroes? There is sometimes a disconnect between our values on one hand and our actions, choices and heroes on the other.

Perhaps the best way to look at heroes, after doing a lot of self-analysis regarding our values, is to attempt to be as objective as possible about heroes our society offers as its great men and women. In like manner, we might also investigate the reasons some other people are viewed as moral outcasts for one reason or another by most in our societies.

©2006 by Richard A. Cheatham. All rights reserved. Mr.Cheatham is a professional speaker/writer and is syndicated through Press Media Group, LLC. Contact him through, Living History Assoc., Ltd., at or

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