Hero or Villain: Your Right to Choose

I use to take pride in this story from my childhood. When I was a wee tot, the exact age escapes me; I remember being in this fun house at the state fair and at the top was this rope bridge that led to the exit. It was sturdy and had multi-colored planks but at the beginning of it was this small boy, maybe 4 or 5, who was afraid to cross. He stood there and cried as other kids just pushed past him and ran across to the slide at the other end. At the bottom of the fun house his mom stood there looking up at him and telling that it was “OK” and to “Come on.”

I don’t know what it was but something compelled me to help this little guy. I remember crouching down and looking at him and saying something to convince him to give me his hand as we went across the bridge together. His mom at the bottom was cheering him on and applauding him going across and once we had made it safely, like there was any doubt, I let go of his hand and sent him down the slide. Once I was sure he was down I hopped into the tube myself and followed. At the bottom his mom thanked me for helping which at the time meant nothing to me because I was a kid and just thought it was the right thing to do.

Fast forward to today, 26 years old and I have this one line stuck in my head, a line from The Dark Knight that Harvey Dent says, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

I am very much alive much like you are, but I can honestly say that at some point in my life I stopped helping small children cross safe bridges and face their own fears and instead became the kid who pushes past. That sounds a little harsher than it really is but I want to keep it that way for my point. I feel like the older I have become the colder I have become. I feel like I pass up on more chances to help those in need than I do help and what is worse is that I don’t feel much of anything in doing so.

Why did I stop trying to be the hero and instead started being the villain? When did I stop being there for those who need it and instead start focusing on me? Is it the world that has made me so cold to doing the right thing? Every day you hear about people doing the wrong thing. Every day you experience someone getting steps ahead of you by watching out for their self. Every day you notice how you seem too loose while someone else plays the game and wins. The world has possibly made us cold to an idea of a greater cause but isn’t that always the struggle of a true hero, to take on the weight of the world while everyone else is benefiting from it or breaking the rules to get their way?

The answer is simple, the world isn’t black and white, it isn’t Batman and Joker, or Good and Evil. The world is a scheme of grey that allows us to choose where our actions fall on the spectrum. We have the option to help push that car down the road to the gas station or give that person dressed in rags a few dollars. What is stopping us from being a hero in the eyes of your friends, children, and lover? Nothing forces us to do good or bad, we choose to, but the real question here is: Are we all slowly becoming the villain, and if so, is it too late to die a hero?