Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Heroes Fall - The Wise Recall

P.N. sent me a November 1978 Harpers article "Too Rich for Heroes" by Henry Fairlie as a follow-up to our Wednesday  after Tennis Inkling discussions over a beer. It was in response to my question about who he considers wise, and my belief that our country needs a common purpose (similar to the race to the moon) to combat our divisive incivility.

"If we no longer have any heroes, it may not be because no one is fit to be a hero, but because we are not fit to recognize one" states Fairlie.

So, I wondered what is the difference between a wise person and a hero?   Both are discussed as virtues by the ancient philosophers.  Both are dependent on character and principles. 

Steven Hall in his book "Wisdom" describes eight "Neural" pillars of Wisdom - Emotional Regulation; Knowing What's Important; Moral Reasoning; Compassion; Humility; Altruism; Patience; Dealing with Uncertainty.

Fairlie talks about traits in Heroism as Courage, Valor, Excellence, Generosity, Forbearance, and  Daring.

Seemingly the common treads are Generosity/Altruism and Forbearance/Patience.  Yet when I ask the questions - Who is a wise person you look up to?  and Who is your hero?  the responses are usually different (normally I say to exclude family members who invariably are answers to both -  My father, mother, grandparents etc.). 

Also Hero answers vary across different domains - sports, academic, religion, business, politics, artists, military etc. and possibly connected to event/outcome. Heroism inspires in ways of action and motivates in risk taking ways.  In fact, too often we hold Heroes up to the standard of perfection.

Wisdom answers seem to gravitate more in the compassion, humility, and passive domains (probably due to the connection with older age and experience).  Conversely wisdom yields no need of perfection - just an outcome of overall virtuous well living and lessons of life in words. 

So Heroes fall  and the Wise recall.

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