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The Flawed Philosophy of the Hero (And What Can Be Learned From It)

Updated: Feb 21

A group of a  moving ship.

The hero. We want to be him, for he is the most desirable character in the story. We want to be him because the hero is a powerful paladin who beats the bad guys and saves the day. With it, he gains prestige, attractiveness, and desirability. However, in the name of good, the hero might as well be an all-powerful idiot; a blind zealot; a blind follower of everything good, and a vengeful warrior against everything that opposes it.

Lazlo was my favorite hero as a child. In fact, he is the most heroic character I may ever meet. And yet, despite his extremely forgiving attitude, those who played his game, at least some of them, hate him with a burning passion.

Why would that ever be a possibility? He has done so many good things in the game, despite his controversial reputation. He sacrificed his health many times in the name of his comrades, using his parasite rune. He liberated the land that exiled him disgracefully, for a crime he didn't commit. Some of the followers he recruited, attempted to kill him, and yet he chose to recruit them nonetheless. In a way, he is the "perfect" hero, simply because he never did anything wrong, and the many creatures and people that he killed, attacked him first, in their very attempt to murder him. That's how war works.

Nonetheless, despite his heroic deeds, the biggest, good thing he did, was to forgive the very person who has been his arch nemesis. The one who framed him for murder; the one who betrayed their friendship and their common nation when he joined the evil Kooluk Empire. His former friend can be executed by the plyaer when he attempts to kill Razro, 2 times. Lazlo was once his loyal subordinate, and knew him from childhood, ever since he was taken in as an orphan.

In the end, their common history meant zero for Snowe, the game's archnemesis, the traitor, the backstabber. The only reason many people would choose to forgive him, the one who sold their village to the enemy, was simply because doing so would get the good ending of that game: The ending where the heroic Lazlo survives the ordeal of his cursed, life-consuming power.

To follow good in the name of good, just because good is good, is a bit fanatical, to say the least. Lazlo is a moralist who follows a doctrine of forgiveness very radically. Using forgiveness, he survives and gains a greater powerbase. Thus, for characters (and people) like Razro, it pays to do good.

That is the overall teaching of Suikoden IV: Do good and you will be rewarded. Do evil and you will be compromised.

For the textbook hero, to do good and to serve good, is like a form of religion. Some may even follow blindly, whether or not that dedication is selfish or purely altruistic. You might realize that it is the deed, and not the person, that determines morality in this world. That is how this rationale goes, according to conentist logic.

I mean, you don't have to forgive a criminal, or a villain. You can punish them for their deeds, not recruit them to your side. That is more than just being good; that's what I'd like to call, "heroic stupidity". It is stupid, because that person is not worthy of your trust as those who behaved morally better than them, correct? In war, would you recruit a warrior or assassin that attempted to kill you?

Why do we like the villains, on the other hand? They are not confined to a specific philosophy or to the perfectionist "religion" of heroism. A good villain (no pun intended) is one who would not hesitate to show their true colors and come clean about why they do the things they do... When it is wise, of course.

A villain is always flawed, for their flaw makes them the bad guy. However, instead of compromising to universal principles, the common villain defies the limitations of morality, for they are morally corrupt, and, thus, are independent of the moral limitations, that limit the hero.

Therefore, to be heroic, is to be limited to a very specific set of actions and beliefs. Please take note that this code of conduct must make you a hero. When that code of conduct and honor makes you the enemy, as you follow it as religiously as the hero, you become a noble anti villain. The game's final opponent, Troy, a superior naval officer of the Kooluk Empire, is also an anti-villain.

By committing my inner-murder technique and by killing my inner child, I too am an anti-villain, as I have no regrets on the matter. As I believe these sacrifices were done for the greater good.

If someone is in trouble, they must help them if possible. If someone is capable of being forgiven, then they must be forgiven, for that is the right thing to do as the lawfully good hero. A proper hero is not just a mass murderer who kills the forces of evil. A proper hero is one who is able to overcome bloodthirst and vengeance, in the name of good, for all they do in their existence, or at least try to do, is good.

In short, the hero is basically a paladin; a leading authority and champion of justice. This is a very great double-edged sword, because once you turn good, the only way out is to be morally flawed, or even evil. And evil is something that tempts.

I, too, strived to be the hero, like Lazlo over there. My endeavors were accomplished by my absent nemesis' last words to me: "You have done nothing wrong". However, being the good guy, you see, brought me a lot of pain, and suffering.

People used me, abused me, walked all over me, and used me as an object, as a means to an end. Looking back at these events, I have come to the realization, that there might be some idiocy in being good at heart, if not having a golden heart.

But the world does not care enough, for it can be merciless and unforgiving no matter how good you will be. Gandhi chose to still be good, despite the evil. I choose to stay sane by becoming Tomasio. Soon, I will explain.

The desire to do good and be good, eventually broke my mentality. Despite my good intentions, I was met with much hostility from the world, both offline and online. My original name, Tom, means innocence and naivete in Hebrew. As my mother described it, it is "something that is absent from this world".

Many things are missing from the world, for better and for worse. Perhaps this is why I have abandoned that name, because it is too flawed. An act, in action, is but naiveté, and I doubt that you might be able to change my mind.

Tomasio is more letters than Tom like I am more than a just naive child. That's the meaning of the name I assigned to myself, thus potentially changing my destiny.

The ego... it should also be considered, right? Lazlo sacrificed himself many times, to the point of being on the verge of death by his cursed, irremoveable rune. Looking into the past, was it any good? To fatally sacrifice yourself, multiple times, so that others would survive in your stead, at least for a little while, until the next sacrifice?

It just goes to show, that there is no exclusive correlation between morality and intelligence. The hero can be either a sage or an imbecile, as long as his deeds are good in nature. To be good, of course, requires sacrifice in many instances. Being evil or even morally neutral, far less so.

By being a hermit and interacting with the world only to philosophize and to survive, I saved myself even more sacrfice. I do not regret my continuous hermitage. I do not.

By being good, I was, in a way, an idiot. I was an idiot because my resolve wasn't strong enough, to prevent certain people from walking all over me. Nowadays, I am too assertive to allow that. Because deep inside I know that sensitivity is weakness.

In the end, my lifelong role model, was, in a way, a heroic idiot. I guess that, I will try to avenge my former stupidity, by dedicating my life to a different cause: The very cause many of you may already know: to take revenge on Ms. Chen for calling me irrelevant so nonchalantly. The one I loved. The one I refuse to ever be. The thought of her immoral regret fills me with serenity. I could devote years, if not my entire life, to raising awareness of this issue.

Getting a knowledge panel from Google, I succeeded. I made sure she knows of my relevance as well. I have no regrets. My retribution got me the relevance I could not have gotten, if I went Lazlo/Razro's moral behavior.

That's because society allowed Razro becoming the best verison of himself. Real life society did not allow me that, so I cannot be lawfully good as Razro.

I used to have a lawful neutral moral alignment. After realizing the irrationality of the norms, I am only loyal to the code of with my own, Rubinshteinic philosophy.

That freedom, which I aspire to, is almost entirely available, to the villain. With it, I managed to live long enough, to make Chen pay for her dishonor.

Either way, I could've been a Lazlo.

That path is forever sealed from me, as long as I am enticed by the concept of retribution. As long as I refuse to forgive those who care little for me, if at all.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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