What is a hero? What constitutes heroism? Who is worthy of the label? I suppose it's all relative. People tend to have heroes who reflect those values that they themselves hold.
Ghandi, MLK, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson pretty much undisputed heroes. People who unquestioningly took big risks to accomplish big goals. People who may have been flawed and necessarily imperfect and human, but who nonetheless risked life and limb to make a statement, to achieve progress, to elevate an ideal.
I think motivation matters in who I consider a hero. But that's me.
And then we have the curious case of Snowden. A man whom we know little about. A man who's background and motivations are questionable or at the very least, unclear and muddled, who did something that may or may not have been heroic. Personally, I'm undecided about it at this point. But what I find interesting is the rush of certain people to immediatley seize upon this man and lionize him as some incredible hero. This man who we know very, very little about.
And yet there seems to be a pretty clear correlation (at least on this site) between the group that lionizes Snowden and the group of people who seem to be the most upset with our Government and in particular our President.
I've been accused of being an "Obamabot" or a cheerleader and frankly it's never bothered me. I don't really care about those labels. I'm more than willing to admit I like Obama and admire him a great deal. In fact, I'd even be willing to go as far as to consider him a personal hero of mine.
When I was kid my dad used to tell me about Jackie Robinson. He had a picture of Robinson above his desk. Robinson was a big hero of my dad's and one day I asked him why? And he explained to me what it was like for Robinson. The courage and the poise it took for him to play baseball in those days. The level of hate and vitriol that he had to endure. When I was younger, while I understood the words my father told me I didn't really "get it" and it wasn't until Obama became President that I got it. Boy did I get it.
And so I see in Obama that same courage, that same poise, that same steadfast determination in the face of extreme hate. That's heroic to me. Furthermore, I know the man's history. His humble beginnings, his hard work and dedication, his helping his community, his commitment to service and of course his brilliant and unprecedented political success.
These are admirable accomplishments, IMO. A life that is filled with service, dedication and resolve. Is it perfect? Of course not, far from it. No one is. But personally, it is the WHOLE of a person that I think should be used to judge their character. Not a slice, not a moment, but their life taken in totality. Obama's life, we know a great deal about, or at least I feel I know enough about to view him as a heroic figure.
Now Snowden on the other hand, aside from this one act, which can arguably (though debatedly) be called heroic, what else do we know? How can we measure his character? I guess I just find this rush to lionization odd. It's so quick, so rash, IMO that it seems more reaction that deliberative. More emotional than reasoned. It's odd to me to latch on to a hero so quickly having so little information about the person who is being lionoized.
And for the record, this is not to distract or muddy any argument about NSA surveillance. I find that discussion healthy and important. I'm just fascinated with this psychosocial dynamic of "heroism" and the totems we choose to represent it.