Category Archives: Civics

No More Heroes, All The Heroes

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

After it became obvious Biden would indeed fairly win the 2020 election, I saw praise for the “heroes” of the election. This activist may be lauded one day, the next a bureaucrat doing their job, and later an elected official showing a shocking amount of integrity. The heroes changed from day to day, but in all cases the praise felt the same – “this lone person/persons was all that stood between us and Dictatorship!”

Which is bullshit and I wish to discuss the bullshit. In fact, after the 2020 election we need less bullshit and consider this my small contribution to reducing the amount of bovine feces in political discourse.

Too many times I witness Americans seek the hero or heroes, the single person or small group that changes the world. There is doubtlessly a great deal of psychology and cultural analysis to be done here, though for me that may be for another time. I suspect it’s a combination of national myth, remnants of the Great Man theory of history, our media, and a large amount of parental issues. I would also add there’s plenty of ego as well – if there is a Great Hero Astride History you can be that person – or pretend to be online!

But the Lone Hero or Lone Small Group of Heroes really doesn’t stand up to reality and is cruel to those doing good things.

A functioning world depends on many people, as we have learned during the COVID-19 crisis when we suddenly discovered “Essential Workers” (and have in many cases unforgivably forgotten them). Our election saw activists texting and phone banking and protesting and their names are rarely in the news or even known. Legions of people processed votes, provided security, monitored for discrepancies, and no one is interviewing them or writing books about them. Even elected and appointed officials doing their jobs are legion, even if we’re surprised they show anything close to actual principles.

This is a terrifying reality for us to accept. In some ways there are no heroes, no one person is coming to save us, there’s no one to look at and say “they have it under control.” If there are no real heroes, then there is no chance for us to be praised and lauded. If there are no real heroes then all we have is each other, and that’s messy and complicated.

It also means we better get to work because life is all hands on deck.

But also this is a wonderful reality to accept. There is an army of people out there ensuring things work, often unappreciated – but we can appreciate them. There are legions out there doing the right thing – and these are people we can help and amplify our own power. This also means the world doesn’t have to hinge on one hero – or one villain – if we only remember that there are a lot of us out there who frankly don’t need them – or can prevent them.

Heroes give the world shape as we can understand the laudable. Heroes give us role models, and we certainly need all we can get. But we need to recognize that pathological ideas about heroes only harms us, makes us seek perfect parental figures. Instead let heroes be humble so we too can be humble, and let them be swappable so we can find the hero we need as opposed to clinging to one.

Besides, it is is cruel in the end to rely on others to save us. Now in the age of COVID-19 we try to ignore the exhausted doctors, the working people in masks and goggles hoping not to get ill, the scientists operating on no sleep. But because they are legion, because it’s hard to find that Special Standout Person among so many, they are oft ignored. If we didn’t seek heroes so much, maybe we’d roll up our sleeves and help all the people doing important things.

Hard work sounds better to me.

Steven Savage

Creativity Is A Warning

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

How many times to we discuss a real world event and compare it to something in fiction? “This is just like that book,” we say or “this reminds me of that movie.” Lost in these realizations is often the fact that we were warned and we should either be thankful for it or shamed we didn’t listen enough.

Of course we should also ask how many times did fiction and art help us head off even worse things in the world? We may have sudden realizations, but might want to ask how many times the creative prevented awful things.

With these inspirations of realization, shame, and wonder we should then ask how can we use our creative abilities to head off bad things. Sure we worry about the wars and tyrants of the present, but we should also work to warn and inform and help people prevent them in the future.

Those yet to come may be quite thankful we gave them enough warnings in our creative work.

This is a massive power that creatives have. Because we connect with our works, we can warn effectively. Because we inspire, we can get people to see future threats. Because we teach others to dream, we can produce new generations of creatives to carry on undermining tyrants.

We should also keep in mind how subversive our work can be. Yes people may invoke the warnings of certain classic books and films – but those are the obvious ones. It’s the inobvious ones that the oppressors current and future miss, and the ones they may either sweat over in fear or not even know exist.

So ask yourself this, how are you going to use your creative power to not just head off the dictators and oppressors of now – but of the future? Maybe you’re busy with the fights of now, but if you can prevent the fights of the future, give it a try.

Perhaps you create a predictive work to warn of what may happen. You may prevent a problem, or help people deal with a future one.

Perhaps you create a work that develops skills or views to face the challenges of the future. They become more creative, or introduced to new ideas they will use, and so on.

Perhaps you create works that let people see the present differently and make different future choices.

And even if you can’t prepare for the future, maybe your current activities can keep oppressors off guard by making them wonder what else you might be doing that affects the future. Keep them guessing with that imagination.

Steven Savage

Dispatches From The Bunker

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I’m hunkered down at home, sheltering in place, like so many of you. At this rate I don’t expect to be going out like normal until the end of May. I’d like to blog more writing stuff, but it’s a bit challenging as my focus is different – getting through this.

The problem with “getting through this” is there is no going back to normal. Normal is gone and good riddance.

Normal led us to this mess. Poor planning, poor awareness, poor practice in too many areas led to suffering. Some countries have done well, but we’re seeing a lot haven’t.

Normal wasn’t as great as it seemed. We’re seeing these events rip the mask off of many flaws in America and other countries – underpaid but critical jobs, understaffed medical care and more.

Normal kept us from seeing better. How many of us realize we can work from home? That we could connect more efficiently? That delivery services could make life much easier (and save time, money, and maybe even pollution).

Normal can’t come back anyway. People will be dead, systems broken, new ideas present, problems revealed. There is no going back anyway.

The question is what we want to do next.

Look, we’ve found who we can rely on and who we can’t. We’ve seen the value of science over bullshit. We’ve seen that people really can rally to help out – and who will exploit the situation. We’re going to have a different world like it or not so damn well shape it.

And that’s overwhelming. It’s hard. It’s painful. We’re stressed, fearful, disrupted, and tired.

But know what? We might as well take what control that we can. We might as well take action when we can. We might as well do what we can. We can take our power ourselves and do something.

So here’s some thoughts for you – on an escalating scale.

  • Take a break. If you’re tired, take a break and rest. Recover your strength – that’s OK.
  • Check in with people regularly. Find out how they’re doing so you can rally.
  • Do something to help people – give a gift, make a meal, give a kind word. Even a minor action changes the world. One of my neighbors has a fruit tree and sets out the fruit for free.
  • Donate to a cause. Look there’s plenty of things out there to help with – your local city or state probably has some organizations to go to. Find one and give money. Its safe and remote.
  • Rally people. Introduce friends to each other. Connect people. Team people up.
  • Connect to a cause. Find a local or national org you can get involved in and DO IT. Start getting active now – and become empowered.

But through all of this? Keep up your creative work. Keep writing and drawing and cosplaying. Because that’s you, and you need to stay yourself.

We’ll get out of this bunker. Let’s make the world better.

Steven Savage