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The Greatest American That Every Lived: A real Life Hero?
Man of Action
By definition, a hero is an individual who is "Admired or Idealized for their courage, extraordinary achievements and/or noble qualities". A hero will rise above all others and do what the majority will not or cannot. There are many words that we can use to describe a hero, but the one word that we can all agree should be in every description of a hero is courage- Courage to go against the norm, courage to stand out, to fight given wrongs and take decisive actions to achieve this goal.
A majority of those who have read about the institution of slavery in America also have some knowledge about the abolitionists and more so John Brown- Yes, "The American Badass" according to some article I read recently. Honestly, by the time I finished reading some material on this guy I had so much respect for him that I had for the Lincoln- Everyone's favorite president. That is not to say I don't respect Lincoln or anything; just that I found a real life Hero I respect more.
If there is one thing I have to understand about the history we were taught in school, it's that it was too damn shallow and meant to portray some people in a more positive light that they deserved. An example? Sure, i'll give one- Christopher Columbus. Oh how the teacher talked about how this great explorer discovered america and why he is so admired. Well, the teacher forgot to mention about the murders of some native people and the institutions of slavery that this "Great explorer" helped bring to life. There are so many others. Do you know about a guy named Nikola Tesla? I bet the first thing that comes to mind from the mention of his name is that he was some crazy inventor and electrical and mechanical engineer, right? Even worse, you don't know the guy, but you know all about Thomas Edison and other popular figures like him...
Anyways, I'm just trying to proceed with caution because I may soon come across some material highlighting why my new favorite Hero (John Brown) was not much a hero after all. Having read about this guy I came across some very interesting points. For instance, he was not just willing to sit around and wait for changes to come with time. Not at all, he went in to full action and successfully freed a number of slaves. He was opposed to slavery from a young age, and nothing would change his mind about it- not even if the majority of white people at the time felt the African Americans were inferior and the institution of slavery was important.
So why do I consider him, rather than the other blacks who fought against slavery at the time? Well, it’s simply because he was white. I am not trying to downplay the efforts of such individuals as Frederick Douglass. Not at all- God knows they did their part. But think about it for a minute: Going against what a majority of the whites in the South felt was the norm and their right. That is some serious stuff if I may say. Still not convinced? Well, the man also allowed his sons to get involved in the struggle. Now tell me that was not some crazy sacrifice.
There is this one passage in the Bible that goes something like this "Love your enemies and pray for them". Another one goes like this "And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even Gentiles do the same?"
There is nothing extraordinary about loving and helping your friends- Many people with friends and families will swing in to action whenever a need arises. It is helping your enemy and helping them in their time of need that sets a person apart. THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT THE BLACKS WERE JOHN BROWN’S ENEMY J J
Although he was a white man, John Brown also showed love and compassion for black, noting that slavery was an evil that many had refused to turn away from. He is eventually captured and hanged for treason, but one can't help but admire who he really was. I have read some material that appear to be really harsh towards him and his actions with some emphasizing that he resulted in the deaths of innocent people through his actions. While this may be true, or is actually true, it becomes evident that the lives of the white were more valued than those of the blacks at the time, and this is why they had a problem with him- He felt that all people's lives were valuable and all people were equal.
While Lincoln noted at one point that if he could unite the union without freeing a single slave he would have done it? This was not the case with John Brown. He wanted nothing to do with slavery and was ready to put his live on the line for his beliefs- This is why he was one of the true Americans in my opinion, and one of the greatest at that.
I can just imagine the amount of hatred white southerners had for him at the time; the death threats to him and his family for his stand- He was going up against the current towards justice- A real Hero. What I love and admire most about the man is that he was not doing in order to profit in anyway, but rather to bring about some justice in a land that claims to be one of the most democratic and just in the world.
So, Hero or Not?
IF anything else, you have to agree that John Brown was what America is claimed to be about. Many have argued that America is all about democracy, justice, equality and respecting of all people- This was John Brown. Sure, he may have broken a number of laws to achieve this, but were those laws just? were they right? did they have to be broken and done away with for better laws that represent america? How many of us today would have put ourselves in his position?
I am not a very good historian, and therefore cannot say for sure that I know all about John Brown and his life. So please share some knowledge in the comment section :) fell free to point out where am wrong and I will really appreciate it.