Monday, June 08, 2015

Heroes and Villains: Barrier to Oneness?

People like heroes, and often give adoration to particular individuals that they see embodying some concept. We idolize actors, sports stars, and spiritual teachers or gurus (and therefore often overlook their negative attributes). We can see this in many areas, when the efforts of a group culminate in results seen in a particular individual. Consider the Moon landing, in which many revere Neil Armstrong, the first person to step upon the Moon. However, he was one of three people on that mission, and they were merely chosen by NASA administrators to be the people on it. The Moon landing was really a group endeavor, which also involved the efforts of many technicians in mission control, the engineers designing the rockets, and even the janitors keeping the buildings clean. The image we have of a famous actor or actress isn’t due to their talents alone, but also a large crew of agents, publicists, script writers, producers, and so on.
Similarly, people hate villains. Consider Adolf Hitler, commonly considered one of the worst people in history, which is very understandable. However, he didn’t invent National Socialism, and was just the leader and face of the Nazi party. There were many other people who supported racist and exploitive policy, and if Hitler had never been born somebody else would most certainly have filled the void and taken a similar role. (That concept is sometimes seen in time travel stories, in which people go back in time and kill Hitler, only for history to turn out even worse.) Beyond the Nazi party, concepts of promoting a “superior race” existed around the world at that time. For example, the United States did similar if to a lesser degree when putting Japanese Americans in internment camps, while many universities of the time would allow one to major in eugenics. The evil of Nazism isn’t something we should only project upon Hitler and see as his fault, because that disconnects us from the real issues at hand. Instead, Nazism is a concept that many supported, and still stains humanity today to some degree, and perhaps even ourselves if we look at our subtle biases. In other words, our real fight is against outdated ideologies, not people.
The human focus upon heroes and villains can often be seen in movies, which have individuals playing important roles. Popular stories like The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars feature a few main characters who rise from lowly beginnings to change the world in a major way on their own. Similarly, those movies feature individual villains who created bad situations on their own, and who are inevitably faced, fought, and defeated by the heroes in direct combat. It’s certainly good to rise and serve the world, and heroes can be a positive example to others, however real life rarely works like that. World War II wasn’t won by the Allies in any major way by any particular individual, but rather by many individuals working together towards a common ideal. Similarly, the core of addressing environmental problems won’t happen by defeating individual polluters or even bad corporations (although those activities certainly don’t hurt). In other words, our “enemy” isn’t individual evil villains, but rather dense collective energies. Similarly the solution to world problems isn’t some savior political or religious figure emerging, but rather by everybody humbly doing their part.
Our obsession with individuality results in success attaching itself to individuals. For example, VHS and Beta videotape formats started out equal, but VHS became slightly more popular, and eventually resulted in a “winner take all” situation. Similarly, the HD DVD and Blu-Ray disc formats started out equally popular until the scales started and then continued tipping in one direction. You can see the same in Facebook posts and YouTube videos, in which some get ignored and others of similar value become popular or “go viral” because individuals tend to seek out what other individuals see as popular. That is a big reason behind the problem of why “the rich get richer”. In other words, significant issues like wealth disparity, the rise of mega-corporations, and so on are ultimately due to humanity’s focus upon individuals. That means the ultimate solution is to move beyond our fixation with individuals, and instead realize and focus upon the diversity and unity of the One Being of humanity as a whole. ♥