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I saw Immortals yesterday. While the plot had some…issues…it had a few good moments. Heroism has been on my mind of late, and one quote in particular struck me:

It’s not living as such that’s important, Theseus. It’s living rightly.

This brings to mind a Rudyard Kipling poem that I’m sure most of you know. I like how I can never fully digest it each time I read it.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

True heroes value the right things, and they don’t compromise. They are loyal and sacrificial to the end. A lot of images flit through my mind when I think of heroes, but right now, I have a vision of Harry Potter, walking through the forest to confront Voldemort. Redemption through sacrifice is a story that speaks to the core of us because it has pertinence to our spiritual condition. I think the reason these stories resonate with us is because they reflect truth dimly. Any kind of truth or light is something that either draws us closer or sends us running.