On flawed heroes

At times like this it’s worth remembering that the point of heroic acts is to do good, and not to place people neatly in the categories of heroes and villains.

Heroes, such as there are from time to time, tend to be flawed. Many are violent. Others untrustworthy. Heroes may be jerks, or worse, in their personal lives. Heroes inspire fools and decent people unto their deaths. Well-adjusted people don’t become heroes. When you see heroism, selection bias says you’ll also see flaws.

Edward Snowden, like Assange, did a heroic act for the public good. The act is for the public good, not necessarily their motives. It is irrelevant (and petty) to deconstruct their motives and attack them ad-hominem. Those who cherish democracy will call the acts heroic and those who love authority will call them treacherous. The people are more tragic characters than protagonists.

I hear that Snowden has fled to China. Bad call. If I was the leader of China I’d press him for information, pay him handsomely if he cooperates, and promptly execute him. Empires despise rogues infinitely more than they antagonize each other.

Being a hero is like being held under the hammer. You tend to do rash things. Judge whether you want to see heroic acts, not what the hero does shortly after.

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