There is a hunger within this generation that echoes everything I’ve read about the ones that came before it. If anything, we now crave fame and glory more desperately than we ever have as a species.
The American Dream is a thing of the past. Today, a man cannot just put his back into the land to dig up his dreams. The Earth is weary of our weight, as we are reminded every time the weather comes on the television. Despite the panic of global warming and holes in the ozone layer, most of us still consider the land to be a slave to our will. Thankfully, we are at least well on the way to convincing ourselves that people with black skin, yellow skin, brown skin and striped skin are still people after all.
We’ve now shifted our gaze to slaves without the pesky feelings that shake our conscience. Computers. Cyberspace is the modern Coliseum, and glory and dreams are lost and found on the internet.
The greatest glory, we forget, is reserved for heroes. Songs are sung about them. Poems are written of their deeds. Heroes are torches, and everyone else on the planet is a mirror for their fire. They are the incandescent sparks of life and Humanity is the tinder.
Not every warrior can be a hero. Today, glory hunters have been replaced with uncountable numbers of automatons who only have two fingers of consequence – the index finger to choose things, and the thumb to like them. With just these two mindless tools, they are convinced that their opinion matters.
Admittedly, without the power of the faceless masses, no hero’s opinion has power. However, Martin Heidegger said that every opinion is already obsolete by the time it sinks to the back row of the class.
It follows that the masses derive power from the heroes that stir their blood. They decide what they stand for by what their heroes stand for, and they need the heroes to know what to stand for. Heroes unite the dust of humanity into the mountain that it is capable of being. Lesser men curl up in the shade offered by these men and women.
The glory of automatons is a sad thing, a crippled fame that flat-lines with the trends that brought it life. The new Coliseum stars the mall rats of social media, and glory is written in shares and tweets upon the swiftly shifting sands of Facebook and Twitter.
They suffer from the delusion that glory can be won with sycophantic applause. They have forgotten that no one remembers the faces in the cheering, clapping, wildly gesticulating crowds. History only remembers the echoes of their roars. History remembers best the face behind the podium that eggs them on with passion. The number of likes on a Facebook page is no honest metric for glory. It describes better how effective its advertising campaign has been, and how much was spent on a media push. This modern term – Virality – is a lie that discounts the power of truth, of the quality of content and the selling power of relevance.
The fact that a thousand people share the same idea does not afford the idea power. The idea has power inherently! Glory is in finding the idea, or arriving at it. It is in being first. If the idea resonates with the masses, it is because the hero understands what the world needs. It is because he listens to the whisper of freedom in his head that automatons think is madness.
It pays to remember that the glory belongs to the discoverers, to the explorers and curators of the new world. Which are you? The hero? Or a sycophant?