Why Do We Have Heroes?  (Part 2)

By | December 5, 2019

[December 5, 2019]  In Part 1 of this two-part series, I asked the question, “What is a hero?” and gave what I thought was a meaningful answer.  In today’s article, I’ll address a more fundamental question that is germane to our understanding of human nature and of the character of leaders.  “Why do we have heroes?”

Growing up in the Deep South meant you attended church every week, knew everyone in the congregation, went to church picnics, and enjoyed Vacation Bible School.  Part of the tradition of any religion is learning about those men and women who were important and those we looked to for lessons of life.  We learned about Noah and the great flood, Joseph of Nazareth, who married Mary, Jesus’ disciple John the Baptist, and many more.  They were heroes of the Bible, and we thought of them as special.1

Military heroes were also part of our growing up: General Patton, Sergeant York, astronauts (like John Glenn), and so many more.  How could we asked, someone, do the things they did despite knowing they could be killed or seriously injured the next moment?  How do you stand up to enemy fire and show your men that forward into the fight was the best decision?

Everyone loves a story of survival and victory.  But why do we have heroes is much more.  We have heroes because we ‘need’ them.  Heroes reveal our missing qualities and show us the way to emancipation from the straightjacket of culture.  Heroes are there to give us hope; perhaps we can be more like them when the going gets tough, and others melt away.  Heroes validate our moral view of life and remind us of the fragility of life.

Furthermore, heroes are dramatic; they are entertaining in their stories and provide us with a feeling of comfort.  Heroes deliver justice, with jurisprudence and with fairness.  And, heroes nurture our deep thoughts of doing good acts for our fellow human beings.  Without heroes, we would be lost in a world of evolving standards of morality and arbitrary laws.

Heroes are more than a way to measure our own lives.  Heroes are fundamentally a necessary part of any society.  They are universal across all cultures and across time.  Never can a group exist without such a person (man or woman) as a hero, that person who is willing to sacrifice themselves for the betterment of others.


  1. https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/7-famous-heroes-in-the-bible/
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

25 thoughts on “Why Do We Have Heroes?  (Part 2)

  1. Delf "Jelly" Bryce

    My my, well done! This was a very informative 2-part series by Gen. Satterfield. Loved the idea that we would even question “why” we have heroes, much less why we “need” them. And, yes, I agree that the idea of heroes has been around since the beginning of mankind. We all like to compare ourselves to those we hold in high esteem. Keep up the great works!

  2. Joe Omerrod

    Heroes are flawed. We need to separate out the things that make our heroes noteworthy, and forgive the shortcomings that blemish their heroic perfection. I think this is what really makes them heroes; they are just like us in many ways.

    1. Bryan Lee

      You are right, Joe. Look back on the heroes you had as a kid and you have now (if you have any now). What’s the difference. Realistically, there is no difference.

  3. Walter H.

    Another article to put into my leadership rucksack. This is a different look at what heroes are and why we need them. This deserves serious discussion. Why? Simple, it gives us a better idea on how to lead a more fulfilling life.

  4. Kenny Foster

    Again, the critical moral contribution of heroes is the expansion of our sense of possibility. If we most of us, as Thoreau said, “live lives of quiet desperation,” it is because our horizons of possibility are too cramped. Heroes can help us lift our eyes a little higher. Immanuel Kant said that “from the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.” That may well be true. But some have used that warped, knotted timber to build more boldly and beautifully than others, and we may all benefit by their examples.

    1. Willie Shrumburger

      Yes Kenny. That is why we, as young boys, always seemed to be looking at our heroes so see what we could do to expand our lives.

    2. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      We look up to heroes like we metaphorically look up to the stars for a frontier to explore. Without heroes we have very little that can push us in the direction of doing goodness for others.

  5. Greg Heyman

    Our heroes are symbols for us of all the qualities we would like to possess and all the ambitions we would like to satisfy. Just a thought!

  6. JT Patterson

    Many of the first Greek heroes were great benefactors of humankind: Hercules, the monster killer; Asclepius, the first doctor; Dionysus, the creator of Greek fraternities.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      So true. Thanks JT. We need heroes first and foremost because our heroes help define the limits of our aspirations. We largely define our ideals by the heroes we choose, and our ideals — things like courage, honor, and justice — largely define us.

    1. Harry Donner

      We need heroes more than ever. So where are they? Why do they seem to be in such short supply?

    2. Janna Faulkner

      Overall, it was an okay article but I disagree with their first reason why there are so few heroes. They say, “To be a hero, you have to learn to be a deviant.” Not so. Many heroes are just ordinary people who stepped up in unusual circumstances.

  7. Scotty Bush

    “Heroes validate our moral view of life and remind us of the fragility of life.” Best quote of the article. Of course, as you pointed out Gen. Satterfield, there are more reasons we have heroes but I think this is the most important. Humans like to have themselves validated. We humans also like to have standards by which we can measure our progress as a person and others. Excellent discussion on the topic, so thanks to all the contributors here; I consider them my on-line friends (in a good way, of course).

    1. The Kid 1945

      Good argument for the reasons we have heroes. I was thinking along the same lines and, yes, there are other reasons too. Looking back at my heroes like John Wayne, Mel Gibson, Telly Salavas, etc. I recognize that it was not them that was the hero but the parts they played (strong men of character) that is what I really saw that attracted me to their movies.

    2. Lynn Pitts

      Scotty, right on target with your comment so thanks. I too love being in this commenting forum on this distinguished leadership blog. Learning never stops.

    1. KenFBrown

      Yeah! I was thinking the same thing Roger. Hey, what kind of last name is Yellowmule? I never heard that before. Is this just a pen name or your real name? Just wondering.

        1. Dead Pool Guy

          Same here. But that is what makes this comment section so interesting since we bring so many perspectives that you can put out in the forum for feedback. Folks here will tell you what they think and do so without being nasty like so many liberal-leaning websites.

  8. Army Captain

    After reading both Part 1 and 2, I will say thank you Gen. Satterfield for putting “heroes” into perspective for me. This is a new way of looking at heroes and it is appreciated.

    1. Valkerie

      Yes, army capt. I’m a fan of this leadership blog and General Satterfield for his insights on things that we don’t even give much thought to. Oh, and thank you for your service to the country and for validating much of what is written here.

    2. Deplorable John

      Yes, great website and even though I’m new to the site, I do love the articles and discussion too.


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