Roy Tang

roytang.net

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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We Shouldn't Need Heroes

It's National Heroes Day over here, so I've been thinking about heroics.

In software development, Heroic Programming can have a negative connotation:

HeroicProgramming is often the only course of action left when poor planning, insufficient funds, and impractical schedules leave a project stranded and unlikely to complete successfully.

I guess it's not just in software development either. Many times heroics are an indicator of failed systems.

Bonifacio and other Philippine heroes were needed because Spanish colonialism had failed the Filipino people, necessitating a revolution.

In this pandemic, we hail the medical workers and other frontliners as heroes for their sacrifices during the pandemic, but they wouldn't need to do so if we had better health care systems and the government had made better planning early on.

Whistleblowers are hailed as heroes, but it would be better if instead the people in charge knew better than to do the bad things that would need whistleblowing.

Whenever there's an election, we look among the candidates, searching for a hero who will fix all our problems and save our country, but a few good politicians won't be enough, what we need are systems and institutions that work to serve the citizenship and can survive even bad leadership.

There will always be exceptionalism, and heroics always make for great stories, but there's also something to be said for just having normal, working systems, institutions, and communities that don't need heroes to keep going. We should celebrate our heroes and be grateful for their heroics, but even better would be a world where we need less heroes; a society that functions normally without people having to make sacrifices.

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Last modified at: Jan. 17, 2021, 4:56 a.m.. Source file

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