Who is your hero? Is such a simple question that is able to reveal so much about an individual as it is hard to put into words the importance of heroes. If one's hero is Tom Brady that person most likely values competition, entertainment, and awards. As Tom Brady, exemplifies uber-competitive nature, is one of the leading faces in American entertainment, and can go on and on about his astonishing list of awards and accomplishments. However, if one is to say their hero is world-renowned controversial artist Banksy, That person may value the arts, staying true to oneself no matter the pressure from others.
Unfortunately today the market for a hero has become extremely over saturated as people tend to toss around the term ‘hero’ too often. The term hero originates from ancient Greece, a hero in ancient Greece was a mortal being who was able to carry out acts that seem to be unfathomable for a human to do, leaving an everlasting memory of a said hero(Labarge 1). In “Heroism: Why Heroes are Important” by Scott LaBarge the argument being made is that everyone NEEDS a hero. LaBarge is able to effectively conduct his argument by appealing to both ones emotions by showing how heroes can increase what one believes he or she can achieve, while also appealing to the ethics of individual by explaining that the right hero can help guide one to live a life by set ideas and principles that one should live by (Labarge 1). Going beyond persuasive appeals, Labarge uses several rhetorical strategies such as when he uses exemplification to show how a hero has affected him.
Appealing to one's character one way in which authors attempt to convey an argument. Labarge is able to effectively demonstrate how the ethics and character of certain heroes are able to influence others for the good or the bad. Unfortunately, by definition, not all heros are good, one can become a hero by “[committing] unthinkable crimes” that were so awful history remembers that person forever(Labarge 1). The same way in which Mother Theresa may inspire one to a life caring for others, a gangster rapper can influence a kid to want to become a drug-dealing pimp (Labarge 2). Having an honorable hero that one looks up to constantly for guidance in life is able to help one without ever having personal interactions.
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LaBarge proposes the question to the audience of “who our own heroes are and what they represent for us”(Labarge 1), and to be constantly asking yourself if you are living your life to the values your hero represents. Without a hero, one is not able to have any base for ethical principles one should adhere to. With an immoral hero, one looks up a person that can possibly influence one to start to commit immoral acts. All the negativity and hate that is constantly being spewed all over American media it is more important than ever for people to have a hero or heroes to look up too.
Labarge starts off his article by giving a personal example of his own personal hero and how this hero helped shape him into the man he is today. Exemplification is a very effective rhetorical strategy that Labarge uses so his audience is able to have a better understanding of the true influence that heroes can have on individuals. Labarge's hero is Henry David Thoreau, an American philosopher from the 1800s who “convinced [him] that living deliberately meant becoming a philosopher”(Labarge 1). Labarge being able to give an own personal account of how a hero has influenced him, strengthens his argument by immediately grabbing the attention of his audience by answering the question to the title, “why heroes are important”(Labarge 1).
Labarge wants everyone to have an honorable hero that helps influence one in a positive aspect. With all the admirable traits that LaBarge lists it can cause his audience to not be able to choose a hero, as there are flaws in most everything and people tend to expect nothing less than perfection from heroic figures. This issue is addressed when LaBarge shows how his own hero “was supposed to be living totally independently out by Walden pond,” but would not constantly abide by this when on occasion he would visit his mother(LaBarge 3). This example of Labarge showing the imperfection of his hero allows the audience to relate more to their potential heroes as the hero may have similar imperfections. Which can hopefully lead to the positive thoughts that “what was possible for them is possible for us”(Labarge 3). While there are several other rhetorical strategies that LaBarge uses, giving examples to his audience creates a greater understanding of the potential influence that heroes can have.
Humans, in general, tend to express emotions when conveying an argument. The appeal to emotions which is exemplified by Labarge when he explains a hero can change the thoughts and emotions of a person(LaBarge 1). Labarge himself started to think differently once he was influenced by his hero. A hero “expand[s] peoples sense of what was possible for a human”(LaBarge 1). When Labarge shows what all heroes do it causes the audience to think of the emotions one may feel from a heroic figure.
Today Gangsta Rap is extremely prominent allowing for several “heroic figures” that may cause society to see the several pleasures that come along with this immoral life. This is not even the worst of the heroes, Osama Bin Laden, no matter how much anger and hatred he causes people to feel, is still a hero. Osama is able to get his base filled with hatred and use that emotion to perform egregious acts of terrorism. Fortunately for every evil heroic figure, there are several noble heroes that “help us lift our eyes a little higher”(Labarge 3). Heroes can cause one to feel several different ways, Labarge is able to point out how by having the right hero those emotions will only be positive.
The term Hero, unfortunately, is closer to the definition of an idol today. This does not stop Labarge from doing an excellent job arguing the importance that heroes do have. While also pointing out that society needs to do a better job of teaching the upcoming generations of telling the stories of heroes and explaining the heroic traits. Teaching the traits of heroes good and bad can help lead fewer figures such as Osama Bin Laden from popping up. If society is able to provide examples of how past heroes have either caused people to fill up with hatred or that others give people hope and a sense of purpose. Then teaching the youth about the ethical characteristics of heroes and how some pose traits that are evil and want to cause harm to other while other heroes want to bring positivity to the world. If society is able to listen to LaBarge about the importance that heroes have then society would be constantly captivated by the endless possibilities humanity has to improve.
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