This hero thing just won’t let me go, it seems. What’s more, it keeps popping up in unexpected places, and forcing me to add to my list. Recently, Karen was doing her periodic exploration of new shows to watch and ended up with a program called Eli Stone. The show really didn’t interest me that much, although the premise is, I admit, catchy: an attorney develops a brain aneurysm like what his father had experienced before him, which gifts him with a form of precognition. He realizes that he must use his gift for good, and begins turning from the type of attorney he was in order to help others around him.
Where this becomes interesting is season 2, episode 8, in part of a story arc where Eli chooses to utilize his ability, against the advice of his mentor, to see his own future. He does so because he wants to know what will happen to him, but he deceives himself by saying that he wants to protect his brother. The consequences prove to be dire. At the conclusion of this story arc, Eli says something interesting. He says that the gift he has received (his precognition) is not his own, but belongs to the people around him. That is, the gift is entrusted to him to exercise, but he has recognized that he cannot exercise it for his own good, but must rather place the good of others above himself.
This is a program that is layered with really interesting theological content, and I think that Eli is a hero. The episode I mention here presents what I think is another element of the nature of a hero: the acceptance of the fact that the gifts and abilities of the hero are not given to that person for his/her own use, but for the good of those around him. This is why heroes become self-sacrificial; because they see that, not only are their abilities not for their own good, but that using them for the good of others can easily lead to the risk of the hero’s own life, a risk that the hero accepts. This is why the hero is the hero. The villain and even the antihero make different choices, utilizing their abilities for more selfish purposes.
What’s great about the fact that I found this element in a character such as Eli Stone is that he is an everyman character, and that he does not wear the guise of a hero at all overtly. This proves that those displaying the nature of a hero must not be costumed adventurers, but that all of us can choose to heroically deal with the evils around us. This is what makes the mythology…and the theology…of heroism so important, is because it is so inspirational.
Photo Attribution: Thomas R. Stegelmann under Creative Commons