Jump to content


Recommended Posts

I guess I'm stupid. Either that, or I don't understand the meaning of the word 'hero.'

In this linked article, the man is called a hero. He's a bigoted, intorlerant, mean, viscious, racist, supremist bully who has changed his world view because he wants to go to heaven. So, his change of heart is precipitatied for self-serving reasons. Yet the article has several people calling him a hero. I don't get it. You can decide.


Link to comment

I'll dare to put forward my thoughts on this one, such as they are. :lol:

Assuming we are not talking about the ancient Greek mythology of demigods or the ancient Greek whose name was Hero and is known as the Greek mathematician and inventor who devised a way to determine the area of a triangle and who described various mechanical devices (first century); I expect we are referring to hero as defined along the lines of a person who is distinguished by exceptional courage and nobility and strength even in the face of self-sacrifice and usually for some greater good, originally of martial courage or excellence, but extended to more general moral excellence.

I would also suspect we are not looking at the dramatic principal character in a play or movie or novel or poem, often called the hero; or the large sandwich called a Hero, made of a long crusty roll split lengthwise and filled with meats and cheese (and tomato and onion and lettuce and condiments).

See Wiki ?Hero.

As Cole observes, this man's change of heart is precipitated for self-serving reasons, but this in itself is not sufficient to deny him of being a hero, and certainly not of him acting in a heroic manner. There is a difference between a person who acts heroically, and a person who is by his nature, a hero. Indeed a heroic act may well be performed by a person who is for all intents and purposes, a coward, but faced with the dilemma of choice, he may well choose to act without thought for his own welfare or reward, and thus seem to act heroically as viewed by others observing him perform the act. He can be regarded as heroic and some will correctly call him a hero. Such people often downplay the hero title.

As Erich Fromm has pointed out in his book Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, it is possible for a person to change from being a vicious war criminal into a loving human being who contributes to the welfare of the human condition instead of its destruction. Such a person may have to live with the guilt of his past actions but he does not let that inhibit his present predilection to do good. This person has made the effort to change.

If however the desire to do good is in someway meant to atone for his guilt, as distinct from his recognition of his past crime and for which he is truly sorry by trying to live a just and moral life, then that atonement is indeed self-serving, no matter if he subverts his past in a heroic manner. Heroes are not made by them doing wrong and then being heroically sorry. Correction of, (or attempt to correct) the wrong may be heroic but it is not the act of a hero.

If on the other hand the person is so truly sorry for what he has done, then he will not act to save himself, but seek to make amends by serving to correct the wrongs or if that is not possible, then by serving goodness as best he can.

Such a change of heart, such a realisation that he is responsible for horrors and crimes against humanity, has in itself required a somewhat extraordinary degree of honesty and introspection by the person, that it might be regarded as a heroic act, but it is not the act of a hero.

Heroes can be ordinary people who when faced with a situation, do the only thing they that is morally possible at the time, without thought for their own immediate danger, or any reward. That does not mean they act irrationally or without trying to preserve the safety of all involved, including themselves.

But a person who suddenly decides he had best make the effort to change to being a good guy so he can get something by doing the right thing is simply proving that he always knew what he was doing was wrong. And that is certainly not the mark of a hero.

A hero is not someone who confesses his sins in order to receive absolution.

A person who takes responsibility for their past wrong doings, and attempts to atone for them, has taken a first step, even perhaps a heroic step, towards realising his humanity, but he is not a hero.

The man in question in the article, Elwin Hope Wilson, has selfish ulterior motives for his courageous apology. As difficult as making that apology may have been for him and even if it took courage of heroic proportions, those motives preclude his action from making him a hero.

If however Wilson is going through a revelation about how horrible a man he was and is attempting to not only reconcile his past, but also to practice compassion for all humanity, I might concede that as something of a miraculous transformation, but miracles do not a hero, make.

The fact that he has reportedly upset someone in the KKK is definitely worthwhile.

In my opinion of course.

(PS has he apologised to the homosexuals? I'll bet he said at least once in a derogatory tone, "faggot.")

Want to see a movie about a racist hero? Gran Torino is an outstanding example, despite many people not "getting it."

Now that film has a hero who is a hero and acts heroically, because he is also human.

Link to comment

I wouldn't call the man a "hero," either, but I'm impressed by anybody who has the courage to take responsibility for their life and try to fix what they had done wrong over the years.

I try to be a forgiving guy, and I find it hard to hold a grudge against people, especially if they can apologize and really mean it.

Maybe the glass is half-full in this case, and the KKK guy really believes what he says. We can only hope.

Link to comment

What you guys may not know about, not being from the South, is that a number of cold cases have been brought up and the FBI and state investigators are having another, shall we say, more inspired run at them.

I doubt this guys sincerity. The old guard klan are some of the most indoctrinated bigots on the planet. Back when he was coming up their indoctrination started in CHURCH KINDERGARDENS and most of them go to their graves beliving their line of crap.

He's probably worried about the FBI knocking on his door asking embarrassing questions about 50 year old murders.

I think he's just gone on the public record to help himself later on if justice comes calling.

Link to comment

I'm a great believer in karma. If the guy did anything horrible in his past, he'll pay for it eventually, one way or the other.

People have done a lot worse than this guy and been forgiven. If he's truly sorry, and is 100% heartfelt and honest about it, I think he should be given a break.

Granted, there are unforgiveable crimes out there, but I don't see any evidence that the guy is guilty of any of those (yet). I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But then, my partner tells me I'm a bad judge of people and am far too idealistic and trusting. (On the other hand, I think he's a cynical bastard after going through law school for six years, and doesn't trust people enough.) Maybe the truth is somewhere inbetween.

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...