“You see, their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you. When the chips are down, these… these civilized people, they’ll eat each other. See, I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.” – The Joker to The Batman in The Dark Knight.
The world today seems to defy all logic. Subsequently, are the generally accepted norms for the responsibilities of leaders, teachers, parents, and as such anyone who would be considered to be a “hero” still valid? Conversely, is anyone who wilfully chooses to not adhere to these “generally accepted roles and responsibilities”, by definition a bad person? A villain? Just as a “bitter pill” is exactly what is required to heal the body maybe a “crooked mirror” is exactly what is required to jolt our perception of the world around us thereby forcing us to wake up from our stupor. The person who manufactures this distorted mirror and more importantly fools people in to using it then might just be the hero “we deserve” rather than the hero “we need”.
With all due consideration the Joker is not a hero in any context. So let us look instead at another character, that of Professor David Gale in the movie The Life of David Gale. A very well educated and successful family man with the usual moral flaws who finds himself at the receiving end due to a mistake that certainly did not deserve the dire consequences that follow. So then what do we make of the path to redemption that he follows? Is he to be remembered as a martyr for a higher cause? Or would it be right to diagnose him as a sociopath – a psychopath – or in medical parlance: a person with an antisocial personality disorder; who deludes himself in to performing horrific acts just to make a point that would just as easily counteracted by the system? Certainly a matter that can invoke a significant debate.
Let us turn our attention towards a few recent event in the real world.
The debate around “Freedom of speech” seems to be growing more fierce rather than being quickly put to rest for obvious reasons. We simply cannot call ourselves a sentient species if we were to curtail our core liberties. On the other hand words thrown around carelessly, even without malice, tend to be able to incite violence far too easily for everyone’s comfort. So how do we differentiate between people who are eager to abuse the power of words so as to generate conflict and those who can twist words around to encourage people to think differently and more importantly to think for themselves? Neither the protagonists nor the antagonists of the recent drama on the premises of the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University are worthy of being elevated to the position of a martyr or a revered leader. Maybe the true heroes are the students that still managed to attend classes and carry on with their studies in spite of all the distractions and disruptions around them. We would never know if they were taunted or otherwise harassed for refusing to participate in the matter.
Another example is that of the heart wrenching refugee situation that is threatening the very concept of the European Union. The pictures of a dead child were plastered all over the Internet to highlight the perils that the refugees undertake in an attempt to escape war, famine, and all other (un)imaginable atrocities in their homelands. The developed nations are caught in a moral dilemma in terms of to how to integrate the refugees that survive the hazardous journey given the strain that puts on their respective economies and local cultures. Isolated incidents of crimes committed by and towards the refugees further muddle the waters considering the ethnicity and religious orientation of the refugees that is in contrast with the local populations of the host nations. Are the leaders who encourage their nations to welcome refugees with open arms the true heroes that the European Union needs or the leaders who take a tough stance on the refugee situation the heroes that the situation deserves?
Reality seems to be stretched across far too many more shades of grey than fiction!
All over the world it seems that ideological differences between different groups are increasing and the seeds of discontent thus being sowed are surely going to result in increased conflicts through the foreseeable future. The need of the hour are people who can somehow find a way to align with multiple yet disparate ideologies and find common ground through very unconventional and unorthodox means. It is inevitable that such people will be disparaged and maligned by the countless other conventional and orthodox leaders of today who insist that standing fast atop an arbitrarily defined moral high ground is the only way to ensure the survival of their way of life. Most of the “ordinary” people in turn are will not be able to see past this propaganda and will eagerly join in on the hunt to drive out such wolves from their lands.
But what if these wolves are the shepherds that would lead the wayward flock that is the human population today on to the path less travelled? Maybe then somewhere along the way we would rediscover our humanity and achieve a delicate yet sustainable balance with this fragile little world that we call home so that our future generations can continue the journey for eons to come.
They are the true heroes that we need but don’t deserve!