ISSUE-059

It is no longer possible for a society to regard any living man or woman as a hero.


Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position.


Can any living man or woman be considered as a hero in our society today? While for many the answer would be negative because of the media scrutiny that can eventually diminish one’s reputation, I believe it is still possible for a society to have living heroes.


First of all, regarding the reasoning that media scrutiny will harm a hero’s reputation, it is undeniably true that no one, even a hero, is perfect. As the adage goes, “To err is human”, so it is understandable that heroes will have personal flaws. Sir Winston Churchill, the political leader who led the United Kingdom against Nazi Germany is a hero of his age in the eyes of British people. However, his bad temper is also well-known and exploited by his political adversaries through media. This is also true to business leaders such as Steve Jobs, the hero who led the revival of Apple and made it the most valuable company in human history. Although Jobs is a genius in business decision, his reputation is also plagued by his bad temper and imperfect private life in the past.


While it is true that no man is perfect, one critical assumption behind the claim and the reason is that media will dig into the personal imperfections of a hero and expose them to the public. Moreover, it is assumed that the public will see and accept the reporting. Both of the two assumptions, however, are problematic. First, the media will not scrutinize all heroes under the microscope simply in hopes of finding their flaws so the heroes shall be struck down, because the resources for a media outlet is inherently limited. There is a fixed amount of manpower and time that can be committed, and one has to question what priority the media places on the scrutiny of heroes. Furthermore, it is possible that media will also include the positive side of a hero in the reporting, so the whether or not the reputation of a hero will be harmed is an open question.


Moreover, readers will also a limited amount of mental resource that can be allocated to certain stories. Nowadays with the explosion of information, it has become increasingly difficult to grab the attention of the readership. As a consequence, even if some media indeed pursue heroes and publish reports that could adversely impact heroes’ reputation, the magnitude and the scale of the impact remains uncertain.


Even if we acknowledge the possibility that media exposure of one’s flaws does diminish one’s reputation, it is questionable whether he or she can no longer be called heroes. To understand the reason, we must look back and consider what makes a hero in the first place. To become a hero, one must possess outstanding traits and/or have remarkable achievements that no other people have. Those are the defining characters of a hero. Even if the image of a hero is tarnished by media scrutiny, as long as his or her achievements still stand, people shall still consider him or her to be a hero. For example, despite Churchill’s bad temper, people during WWII UK still admired him for his courage and persistence that eventually won the war. The same is true for Steve Jobs, whose innovation and intuition completely changed the way of our life. Because of that, people regard him as a hero.


To summarize, while I agree that no one is perfect and the media can expose the dark side of a hero and diminish one’s reputation, heroes are made because of their superior personal qualities and/or applaudable achievements. In this light, it is entirely possible for the society to regarding someone as a hero today despite their personal flaws.

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