I argue that our greatest heroes are fictional and that is OK.
Who are our greatest fictional heroes? Among them include virtually all the characters of great mythology, but also all the protagonists within history.
“History,” you say? “But those are not fictional characters at all!”
Hog wash. I have read my fair share of biographies and, in all cases I have come across, every single historical figure in human history has a fictional caricature that has been more widely venerated than his or her true self. Yes, that is right; our heroes are as much lies and invention as they are truth. Take any example you like and dig a little deeper: Jesus, Gandhi, Kennedy, Elvis, Sir Issac Newton, Mother Theresa or Magic Johnson. “Heresy!” you say? No. Just human nature. Not theirs (although of course that plays a part); but, rather ours. We, the readers and writers of history, insert our own fiction. Men are men, heroes are fiction. Again, I say that is OK! We need heroes regardless of whether they are more fact or mere fiction. The message they represent is far more influential to our reality than the mundane or even controversial facts of their identity.
Go big or go home! Take Jesus for example. I have a little indoctrination combined with academic experience on the subject. In my mind, how much of “The Man” is fiction or fact is almost irrelevant to the impact he has made to our world. Actually, let me take that back. I suspect that the myth is perhaps more relevant than the facts of which there are so few. But again, I say that is OK! We own fiction! It is our exclusive tool as the only storytelling creature on this planet. A fantastic tool that can turn a narcissistic, self-indulgent, egotistical social climber and ruthless political assassin like Sir Issac Newton into an inspiration for future scientists as well as the up and coming world changers.
I am not so arrogant (yes, I said that) that I think I can change the world with my direct example. I do hope to create a fictitious character with better odds.