Why The World Needs Heroes

After the darkness comes the light. After the doubts comes the wisdom. After the catharsis comes transcendence. But in the beginning was the still, small voice. Being in a position of influence means having the moral obligation to use that influence for the greater good. We may possess the freedom of choice, but we also bear the responsibility for the consequences of our actions. 

Benjamin Franklin, one of the most brilliant minds in history, counseled that even our inactions can change the world. Thus, everything we do or fail to do is woven into the fabric of the cosmos, checked and balanced by the laws of the universe, which governs us all.

Oskar Schindler’s life was like a Shakespearean tragedy. He was a worldly man, an industrialist who loved wine, women and all the things that money can buy. He has prospered through his connections with an evil person surrounded by Rasputins corrupted by absolute power. He lived in a time when the State is prostituting his country’s honor.

But destiny moves in mysterious ways. In the end, he has found redemption, joining the ranks of those who stood up for their new-found convictions – no matter how others have magnified his imperfections – and history has vindicated and immortalized him. For Oskar Schindler used his influence to save the lives of over a thousand Jewish men, women and children. Using his own resources, he bought their freedom and gave them sanctuary from the genocidal horrors unleashed by the Nazis.

As a businessman under a brutal and rapacious regime, who doesn’t have the power to admonish them to moderate their greed, he has learned to compromise with the Powers-That-Be. He has to be practical to survive. After all, he hasn’t the authority to pose the questions he doesn’t dare ask to those he doesn’t dare question. As a human being, however, he must face the ultimate test – the one true path to greatness – the struggle between his primal instinct for self-preservation, and the deadly sting of his conscience.

He is a hero.

But a hero is not a saint.

Heroism is not the absence of frailties, but its conquest. Human nature is such that perfection is impossible. A hero, in essence, is a flawed being who has raised himself to more than he can be. He has battled his personal demons and he has survived, his pride unviolated. His character may be assassinated by cowards, but his soul is at peace. Steven Spielberg’s greatest legacy is the masterwork Schindler’s List, the epic saga of a common man who lived an uncommon life.

Oskar Schindler’s story deserves to be heard, now more than ever, for he is a hero in the truest sense; and we need heroes because only they can summon the nobility and inherent goodness in each and every one of us. Schindler’s List is a celebration of the human spirit, affirming that Good, after all is said and done, always triumphs over Evil.

Photo courtesy of FanPop.com. This story subsequently appeared in AllVoices. It is also featured in Digg. Your comments and site links are welcome.