I’m still writing on Messiahs in our world. Last few times I suggested that Messiahs were usually pathological, at least in modern times, and often arose promising to clean up messes made by other Messiahs. It’s world saviors all the way down, a giant Jenga tower of narcissism and delusion.
(Probably why I adore the almost-certainly fictional story of Lao Tzu, who basically wrote one book and f***d off into the wilderness.)*
I’ve realized lower down the Messiah Tower of Babel-on are the Heroes.
The Heroes are people who aren’t Messiahs (yet) but want to fight a battle against darkness. They may not launch a Crusade, but they’re more than ready to get on board with whatever you’re willing to hand them. They’re vital fuel for the Messiahs, at least the pathological ones.
I see a lot of Heroes on the internet – what are sometimes called Keyboard Commandos, the 101st Chairborne, and so on. People who are ready to talk a big game, who want to be involved – as long as they just keep typing. They feel important for posting the latest meme, even if they’re at best a cog in a large social or propaganda machine.
I see plenty of Heroes ready to get sold a cause they can support if it’s not too hard.. They can “help the children” or “stop the conspiracy” or whatever. They’ll gladly donate or buy some merch or whatever is offered to them. They are happy to provide money so they feel good, funding whatever the Messiah Of The Month is. Maybe they even go to seminars and so on, shelling out funds to take hours of courses that will just get them to pay more.
Finally, there are the Heroes who take action – and make things worse or create more problems. They’ll go on some “mission” for whatever grifter they latched onto that invades privacy, disrupts lives, or accuses the innocent of crimes. Some of them do various forms of misery tourism where they “help” others by swooping in, take a few photos, and pretend to care for an hour. Hours just end up engaging in what is bluntly terrorism, their Hero status replaced with people screaming “false flag” or “lone wolf” – especially the Messiahs they followed.
The heroes are the foot soldiers – and cannon fodder – of the various would-be Messiahs. They’re much easier to rile up today with mass media, internet connectivity, and weakened social bonds. You can sell them a fantasy to keep your grift going with ease.
They’re also easy to rile up because of our media. So many tales sell hero stories, where the hero is righteous, supposedly humble, and of course ultimately justified in their actions. We’ve been told we have to be James Bond, Aragorn, and Jack Reacher. Of course, people want that, and are glad to buy a simulation by whoever will sell it to them.
We need more people who are people, not Heroes following a script. They’re just Messiah fuel.
* If you wonder my actual take on the Tao Te Ching, in my limited knowledge, I think there were a few writers who held the title Lao Tzu and that solidified a political guide to the Taoist mystical philosophy.