Let’s Talk About Hero Fatigue Syndrome. Hero Fatigue Syndrome has grown well beyond my initial coining of the term. Back in 2009 Captain Sullenberger had his famous landing on the Hudson River and I wrote this blog explaining how America builds up its heroes and then takes them down. Later on that year Captain Richard Phillips from pirate fame had me expound more on Hero Fatigue Syndrome. In 2010, I wrote more on my theory and expanded it to our sports heroes.
Now we are in 2017 and over time Hero Fatigue Syndrome has morphed into a place of an oddity in my mind and I thought it was time to write on this subject once again. Somehow, and I am not sure how, America has gotten in a habit of calling everybody a hero. Nowadays, you are called a hero just for having a civil service job. It has gotten so diluted that the fluid meaning of the word hero has lost its zeal or original purpose. Surely, everyone can’t be a hero?
How did cops become heroes? How did just being in law enforcement make you some hero? How does putting on some uniform make you a hero? Since when did everyone who joined the military become a hero? How are first responder’s heroes? Since when does driving an ambulance make you a hero? Why are firefighters heroes? How did we get here in this semantical fog and where can we find the real heroes?
The sacrilegious practice of speaking truth to the politically correct mob will no doubt put me back in hot water. A place I find myself quite a lot as a writer, but on this subject matter, it’s well worth it. Let me be the first one to say to you, that you are not a hero. I want to scream from the mountaintop that everybody is not a hero. Let us start with cops. Police officers are not heroes. Now there are heroic cops but putting on the uniform does not make you a hero. In fact, we have all seen in recent years that there are many bad cops. There are a lot of bad cops. They are not all heroes. Don’t give me that crap about putting their lives on the line every day, that is not true at all. Every day, police officers do not risk their lives. Some days they never leave the office. The only danger some cops face in their entire career is receiving a paper cut from all the paper they push. In fact, their profession is not even in the top ten deadliest jobs in America.
How about firefighters? Are they heroes? In most of America’s history, fighting fires was something we all did on a voluntary basis. We certainly did not look at ourselves as heroes, but rather unlucky to have to be putting out some fire. Before 9/11 the public did not view all cops and firemen as heroes. They viewed the heroic ones that did amazing things as heroes, but not all of them as a group. They had heroes among them, but standing there with a hose and fire retardant equipment did not make them a hero. What’s next? Do we make the mailman a hero? How about the clerk of the court? Where do we draw the hero lines?
Lastly, let’s talk about our military. This one is my favorite pet peeve of all. Since I was in the Navy, I can speak from experience and tell you first hand, we were not all heroes. This worship of our military at airports has become obscene and counterintuitive. The Department of Defense and Walmart are two of the biggest employers in America. According to Wikipedia, “A 2012 Pentagon survey found that approximately 26,000 women and men were sexually assaulted. Of those, only 3,374 cases were reported. In 2013, a new Pentagon report found that 5,061 troops reported cases of assault. Many people are optimistic that this 50% increase in reports is indicative of victims “growing more comfortable in the system.” Of these reported, however, only 484 cases went to trial, and only 376 resulted in convictions.” It also says that “A survey for the Department of Defense conducted in 2014 found that in the past year 62 percent of active service members who reported sexual assault had experienced retaliation, including professional, social, and administrative actions or punishments.”
So, does this sound like heroes to you? Let me ask you a question. If 26,000 women were raped and assaulted at Walmart, would that make the news? Would people be asking what the hell is going on in Walmart? Would you still be shopping there or going to work there? So why do we ignore tens of thousands of women in the military who tell us what is going on? Since this kind of behavior is widespread in our military branches, chances are, when you clap at an airport to just anyone in a uniform, you may have applauded a rapist. What message is that sending him? Maybe he just raped a woman the night before his flight and now you are standing at an airport clapping, calling him a hero and thanking him for his service.
Do you see how this hero thing can go awry? Everybody is not a hero. Leave the heroism to the heroic souls whose actions earned that repute and stop watering down the real phenomena or accomplishments of American Heroes. Captain Sullenberger is a hero. Captain Phillips is a hero. Those Navy SEALS that saved Captain Phillips are heroes. Let me have my heroes. Don’t take that away from me with your politically correct madness and semantics. Let me still believe that the fireman coming down the ladder of a burning building with a baby in his arms is a hero. That cop breaking down the door of a crack house pulling out some guy’s teenage daughter out of there is a hero. The Navy S.E.A.L. sniper Chris Kyle’s pinpoint accuracy saving countless lives is a hero. Leave my heroes alone please, they are real, yours are not.