What makes a hero?
Is it the legacy they leave behind? The stories told over and over, slowly changing and evolving as the ripples of their actions echo across time?
Is it their daring deeds, which fill witnesses with hope? The choices they make that spread the habit of heroism to all affected? The inspiration they send coursing through the veins of society?
Is it the challenges they overcome? The singular villain or the faceless resistance of the masses? Is it the challenge itself, or the overcoming that makes the hero?
Is it the will that fuels them to stand apart from all the others despite no need to do so? Is it the causeless, ceaseless ambition within them to surpass all boundaries of expected behavior and vault themselves into new experiments in the sacred art of success?
Or could it be their origin — the story of how the ordinary became the exquisitely, uncommonly abnormal?
Perhaps the hero is made by the people who first believed in them. Perhaps the spark that lights the heroic inferno is the first love they feel in their lives, whether from their dual creators or some other mentor.
Many heroes are born from strife and suffering. Yet part of what makes them heroic is that they do not seek to recreate their origins — they seek a better way. Heroes seek a peaceful way to further the ideal of heroism.
For each victory the hero claims, his children might claim two, three, tenfold such glory.
The legacy of even the most heroic individual is nothing compared to the infinite good done by even one child well-raised. The legacy of the childless hero ceases to grow as soon as he ceases to breathe. It may struggle on for decades or centuries, but it will remain stagnant and immaterial. A soul without a body.
Yet as the legacy of these grand achievements slowly disappears into the general currents of history, the ripples made by proper parentage grow and grow into a tsunami that will one day bathe all humanity in glory.
One child, given joy and ambition for life, who’s curiosity is fed and independence rewarded, may in their own time create two children. If this proper, dedicated form of parenting continues, four children may come next. Eight, sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four…
In ten generations, you have given the world not the heroism of a single man, which fades and is forgotten, but the heroism of one thousand men. One hero can move mountains — one thousand can shift continents.
In twenty generations, you have given the world one million heroes. One thousand heroes can build a better nation — one million can build a better world.
In thirty-three generations, you have given the world more heroes than it currently had inhabitants.
If only six hundred years ago, in 1400 BC, we had learned how to parent properly — to raise children who are independent, ambitious, free, and thoughtful — then we would live now in a society comprised exclusively of the heroes we now find to be so rare.
So every time you find yourself bemoaning the state of humanity, and wondering what heroic acts you can undertake to make a positive change, remember that you have the answer. Your choices can start a revolution that might give birth to utopia.
You needn’t found a billion-dollar company, nor become the leader of your country. You don’t have to write an inspiring best-seller or invent a new life-saving gadget. These are great contributions indeed, but all pale in comparison to the good done by being a proper, peaceful, guiding force in the life of even a single child.