This trend for the “front line” healthcare workers (front line making a allusion to war) to be referred to as “heroes” has a disturbing subtext. If you study storytelling, you know the hero has the agency:
“…to be a speaker of words and a doer of deeds.”
– Phoinix to Achilles in Homer’s Iliad
Health care workers should NEVER be heroes except in extreme singular events. A pandemic is a prolonged tragedy, not a crisis.
The hero must be taught to be a hero before his prophesied demise.
Two conflicting cultural tropes operating at once
The western medicine ethos pushed by the medical profession over the last century is that we must trust doctors with our lives without question. The result has been a declining personal responsibility for our own health.
The tendency to distrust authority in polarized political theaters has warped our relationship with the very people who we rely on to provide medical care.
Heroes die or become the villain
The story arc of a hero ends in their demise or the target of changing opinion. The only rule of political agency is “tear down your perceived oppressor” (or whoever is currently got the spotlight).
The medical professionals saving lives everyday are doing their jobs, not acting in public. It is an absurd disservice to them to equate their jobs as political acts in any shape or form. The real absurdity is the majority are unwilling to police a dying minority who endanger us all by their unwillingness to follow scientific authority.
But the dying minority’s response to the pandemic was eminently predictable based on the patterns of political discourse over the last twelve years. The dying minority will die on the hill of personal freedom. They will sacrifice their children and ailing parents on the hill of personal freedom. Their ethos is rooted in an anti-authoritarian (literally anti-author) that defines party membership through unwavering subservience to an ideology of personal freedom as the highest public good. Their righteousness is unrelenting: life itself is less valuable than freedom.
So they rebrand heroes as villains
Putting nurses and doctors on the “front line” was a general act of cowardice by the majority. This isn’t their war. They didn’t sign up to be heroes. Police the dying minority like a civilization. Conscripting heroes to fight in your place because you’re too comfortable and distracted is why the pandemic is entering its third wave.