When I was five, Dumbo the flying elephant was my hero simply because I loved elephants and I also wanted to fly. I am sure that my admiration was genuine at that time. The cardboard boxes full of Dumbo plushies from Disney can testify to that. Since Dumbo is no longer my hero, however, I can say that when I promote somebody to an ideal in the future, it will not be for the same reasons. Children have many different reasons for identifying with who they consider heroes, but just like how motion was understood when everything irrelevant was eliminated, the said person is their hero because they want to be like her or him- perhaps not at the present moment, but eventually. There is nothing wrong with having such a person for a hero, but that is when the blurred distinction between a hero and a role model gets even messier.
A role model is somebody you want to emulate, and the hero is someone whose qualities you admire. Looking at explanations, you want to be like your role model because you admire his or her qualities, and you admire your hero because he or she has admirable qualities. With our innate yearning for the best, whatever that means to you, admirable qualities are qualities you want to have eventually. Past a certain age, people stop citing Superman as their hero, unless he embodies something personal to them. The simple distinction between Superman and someone like Martin Luther King Jr., therefore, is a model far too shallow to be used.
This blurry distinction is not necessarily bad. I just want to remind myself to stop thinking of myself for a moment and concentrate purely on the qualities- to hell with having them or not- of my next personal hero.
Day 10 of the Daily Post