Published On: Mon, Nov 27th, 2017

Meredith Iler Looks at What Makes a Hero

Most of us know of the real musical heroes. People like Elvis Presley and the Beatles, who changed the way the world looked at music. They seem to have disappeared as of late. According to Meredith Iler, this isn’t because we have become complacent. Rather, she thinks, it is because musical heroes are formed during periods of tremendous social and political change.

Meredith Iler on Heroes and History

photo/Brandon Jones at Winter Jam Tampa, 2015

There have been many heroes throughout history. People like Caesar, King Arthur, Richard the Lion Heart, and Robin Hood. They weren’t necessary good people, as such, but they were people that others talked about for many more years to come. There is unlikely to be any truth in a great wizard called Merlin using magic, or of a sword to be stuck in a rock. The truth lies in King Arthur having been a great man and just king, and that story lived on, growing in significance over time.

This is something we have seen more recently as well. People like the Sundance Kid, Butch Cassidy, Jesse James, and Billy the Kid live on in our hearts. They are American heroes. But they were also bandits who killed, plundered, and robbed. They took advantage of the fact that society was lawless at that time. But they are heroes as well, because they changed the world around them and pioneered the world we know today.

Fast forward to a little closer to modern history, and we will see people like Al Capone and John Dillinger. They were not, in any way, good people. But they are true American heroes. They helped shape the world we know today, and we still talk about them. They appear in movies and in popular culture, and although everybody knows that John Dillinger was a bank robber and Al Capone was a Mafioso, we find them endearing in a sense and they have a special place in our hearts.

According to Meredith Iler, what brings all these people – and the musical heroes mentioned earlier – together, is the fact that they were around during a time of great change, and they have become almost synonymous with that change. Their exact deeds become almost irrelevant, it is the legacy they left behind that matters.

So how does this relate to the world today? We live in a society where men and women give their lives to protect their country, and they come back to a society that barely welcomes them and certainly doesn’t support them. The percentage of homeless people who are veterans with PTSD is absolutely shocking. A lot of people are aware of this, and they are fighting for change, starting programs such as “Help the Heroes”, recognizing the important role these brave men and women have played in keeping us all safe. Yet their names are unlikely to go down the history books, at least not yet, because they are not part of a time of great social change. Yet, according to Iler, this does not make them any less of a hero.

Author: Anwar Hossain

photo/Brandon Jones at Winter Jam Tampa, 2015

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