A president like Abraham Lincoln, an American Patriot such as Francis Scott Key, and an explorer such as John Muir. What do these three people have in common? Many Americans would consider all of these people to be great heroes. I, on the other hand, do not. In order for a person to be hero, they must be strong, courageous, calm, thoughtful, bright, and caring. Basically, a hero must make no mistakes; they are practically perfect in every way. Of course, a world like ours needs a couple of heroes like that, that is why it is so unfortunate that I can not honestly say our world has heroes.
The sixteenth president of the United States of America, the man who led our country through crisis, and the man who is often considered our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln. Yes, he led our country through crisis, the Civil War. But was it really necessary for our country to go to war over slavery? Or were there better ways to demolish slavery? Over six hundred thousand Americans died in a senseless Civil War. No, he shouldn’t have gone to war. Many argue that if it weren’t for the war, we would still have slavery. But that can’t really be true. Slavery had already been phased out in every other country of the world. We could have easily done like the British Empire did. He could have bought the slaves and released them. Would that really have costed so much compared to killing over 600,000 Americans? Even with all the hatred and racism that existed, every other major country in the world was able to get rid of slavery without a civil war. To me, it sounds like what would have been a very reasonable approach. So can you really call a man who led us through a crisis that never should have even existed under his presidency a hero? I know I can’t.
The man who watched the final Battle at Fort McHenry during the war of 1812, he prosecuted Richard Lawrence for his unsuccessful attempt to assassinate the President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, and the one who wrote the lyrics to our national anthem that people so often solute to, Francis Scott Key. So the man was a great writer. I am not such a bad writer myself, but I am no hero. He just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and got stuck watching the battle. It was no choice of his. So is he really heroic for accidentally being somewhere? I wouldn’t say so. Writing a poem doesn’t make a person a hero. Do we consider Jen Calonita a hero for writing the Secrets of My Hollywood Life series? No, I’m sure most people haven’t even heard of her. So just because what Francis Scott Key wrote ended up becoming more meaningful, he is a hero, and she is not? That doesn’t seem right to me. If I don’t consider her a hero, why would I think any different of him?
One of the first modern preservationists, one whose letters, books, and essays of his adventures were read by millions, and the one who founded the Sierra Club, one of the most important conservation organizations in the United States, John Muir. I for one have never even heard of him, but when I was researching, I came across his name, and my teacher told me that he was his hero, so I knew I had to write about him. Muir viewed wilderness as pure, and according to Carolyn Merchant “John Muir envisioned national parks as pristine wilderness, without domesticated animals or Indians. In My First Summer in the Sierra (1911), a saga of his Sierra Nevada travels in 1868, Muir wrote disparagingly of the Indians he encountered there, equating Indians with unclean animals that did not belong in the wilderness.” Also, after President Lincoln ordered a draft of half a million men, Muir journeyed through Canada, and this journey has been seen by historian Roderick Nash as not a simple journey into wilderness, but a trip to avoid the draft. Nash wrote: “Muir’s first encounter with the idea that nature had rights came as a consequence of draft-dodging. … Muir, who was twenty-six and single, felt certain he would be called, and he apparently had no interest in the fight to save the Union or free the slaves.” I can only speak for myself, but to me, that doesn’t sound very heroic. So he ended up doing things considered great because he was trying to avoid having to fight to free the slaves? And he thought that Indians and animals made nature impure? And he’s a hero? He could have saved lives and I still wouldn’t consider him a hero, because I bet the only reason he would have saved those lives, would be because he was just avoiding doing something else.
So a President like Abraham Lincoln, an American Patriot like Francis Scott Key, and an explorer such as John Muir. None are heroes? Yes, it’s true none are heroes. But by making this statement I am not saying we don’t need heroes. Yes, we don’t have them, and so far we have gotten along without them, but things are changing, and they seem to be getting worse. I am truly worried about my generation. With global warming, the energy crisis, pollution, the war, and all the hate, our world is dying as I write this. Its clear we don’t have heroes today, or all these problems wouldn’t exist. And without the heroes we so desperately need, I wonder, what will happen to the human race? What will happen to the Earth, and the animals? What will happen to life as we know it? Right now, we need some true heroes more than ever. Without them, we will experience a depression like no other, and our world will come crashing down on us- this I believe.
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