Why do we need heroes and leaders? What are their essential qualities, and how can we foster this quality in people of all ages especially the upcoming generation? These are questions of timeless importance and never more so than in present-day America of the 21stcentury.
For myself, I remember first being inspired by the heroes I came across in Greek myths in my early teen years. I was captivated by the heroes of the Iliad and the Odyssey, Heracles, Perseus, and many others. Later I realized that fictional stories have great value in the shaping of character of those who take the time to enjoy them and ponder their meaning. For example, as I think back on my life and the times I was not the man I wanted to be, fictional archetypes helped inspire me to keep trying to be the kind of man those heroes represented to me. More than once I would think to myself: “I may not be Heracles, or Howard Roark, or Mike Hammer yet, but I will keep these figures in the forefront of my mind until I become my own version of these heroic archetypes.
Hero-leaders of all ages typically have the following qualities: (1) They have a vision of how their world should be (2) They are men/women of integrity who stand by their values as they pursue that vision (3) Because of their vision, integrity, and courage to persevere in difficult circumstances, others willingly follow them as they pursue that vision.
All of these qualities are desperately needed in today’s world. We need more heroes and leaders to help the U.S. and the West resuscitate a world mired in a sea of corrosive philosophic ideas and the effects those ideas are having on our cultural institutions. To counter the indoctrination occurring at all levels of our public education system, we need to present impressionable minds with inspirational ideals of hero-leaders.
For these reasons, I would like to introduce readers to a hero-leader presented against the background of the King Arthur legend, but one that many historians believe has a basis in historical fact. The 2005 movie, King Arthur, was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and stars Clive Owen and Keira Knightley.
The Arthur in Bruckheimer’s movie is not the Arthur of myth, but rather a conscripted Roman soldier forced to fight in the Roman army at a time that Rome is falling apart and the Dark Ages are nearly upon them. In this story, Arthur leads an elite group of knights who revere him– and vice versa– for his courage in battle and integrity to his values.
The question that Arthur must face–and answer–to save himself, his men, and others depending on him is: What IS right(?) when his world is falling apart, and his men are furious with the Church authority who has betrayed them and forced them to engage in a suicide rescue mission.
As if the situation were not complex enough, he and his men must form an alliance with the native Britons, a people they have been fighting against for the past 15 years. And worse still, his mentor the Christian philosopher, Pelagius, has just been killed leaving Arthur adrift from the inside out. Yet Arthur and his men face it all, with a courage and intellect that causes Guinevere, a fiery native Briton who initially challenges the choices Arthur has made, to fall passionately in love with him and he with her.
Guinevere shows herself to be a heroine worthy of Arthur, and vice versa, in a moving scene near the end of the movie:
Guinevere: “I can see why you think you have nothing left here. You have your deeds . . .”
Arthur: “Deeds by themselves are meaningless unless they serve a higher purpose! We have waged a war to protect a Rome that does not exist. Is that the deed I am to be judged by?”
Guinevere: “You stayed and fought when you could have run. You bloodied evil men. You did all that for no reason?”
Arthur: “Pelagius told me once that there is no worse death than the end of hope.”
Gunevere: “. . . What are you afraid of Arthur? You’re like this country, Britons with a Roman father. Rome is DEAD! This place, this land, your HOME– is the last outpost of freedom, of everything you hold dear.” Reaching up to touch his cheek, “These . . . are. . . your. . . people.”
Hollywood churns out a lot of forgettable movies these days, but this time thanks to Jerry Bruckheimer, a great script, and a talented set of actors, they really got it right. See this inspiring movie of an unforgettable hero-leader and take these lessons home with you to live in your own life, as I have in mine. – Mike Gemmell