Postulate – Everyone loves a hero
Corollary – Everyone wants to be a hero
What drives so many to join the military? Do they really want to “serve their country?” There are surely a lot of other, safer ways to do that. Do they want to prove that they’re tough or brave? Or, one of a “few good men?” My son was lamenting the fact that he could not be in the military, because if he was, he could be a hero, like his grandfather was. Which gets to my point – everyone wants to be a hero. Just not all of them are willing to die for the privilege.
Politicians want to be heroes too – or at least be seen as heroes – because we all like leaders who are heroes. Of our 44 [now 45] presidents, 31 were in the military. About half were considered war heroes in their day. I think we can add Lincoln to the list, not for his short military time but in his role as commander-in-chief. When was the last time we had a President who was a war hero?
Dwight Eisenhower was a hero, for leading the European war effort for the Allies. John Kennedy was a wartime hero. Some would also add that he was a hero for standing up to the Soviets during the Cuban missile crisis. George H.W. Bush was the last, only tallying one term.
Despite the fact that the electorate is less enamored with war heroes since the Viet Nam era, politicians, like others, want to be remembered as heroes.
Gee, what can I do to be heroic? Well, maybe I can knock off some dictator that is killing off his people. Hmm, well really that is leaving all the heroic work to my pawns – or drones. Then, maybe I can save the world from some really big disaster. That’s got to be super-heroic. Well, I obviously can’t stop hurricanes. And, I certainly can’t prevent earthquakes. What about saving the planet from environmental destruction? That’s been a big thing for the last, oh, 50 years!
But, what can I do to prove I am a hero? Maybe I don’t really need to prove it. If we can define a big enough disaster, and do something really big, that will at least look heroic.
Thus is born the unholy alliance between politicians and climate scientists. Politicians are always looking for something really scary so they can look really heroic. Climate scientists want to be heroes too. And, it doesn’t hurt that it can be quite lucrative – or at least finance their career. The problem with climate change is that it is not scaring very many people. Perhaps it is that change is so slow that it is not really noticeable. Or, perhaps people remember that 40 years ago, the alarm was a runaway snowball earth. Now it’s runaway greenhouse? Yeah, wake me up when you have something that affects my daily life.
Featured image is Captain Planet, a 1990’s cartoon hero, who materializes to save the Earth from pollution when summoned by his teenage followers.