In “Heretics” Chapter 2, GK Chesterton writes: “Every one of the popular modern phrases and ideals is a dodge in order to shirk the problem of what is good. We are fond of talking about “liberty”; that, as we talk of it, is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about “progress”; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about “education”; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. The modern man says, “Let us leave all these arbitrary standards and embrace liberty.” This is, logically rendered, “Let us not decide what is good, but let it be considered good not to decide it.” He says, “Away with your old moral formulae; I am for progress.” This, logically stated, means, “Let us not settle what is good; but let us settle whether we are getting more of it.” He says, “Neither in religion nor morality, my friend, lie the hopes of the race, but in education.” This, clearly expressed, means, “We cannot decide what is good, but let us give it to our children.”
I note this is a common problem in modern heroic literature. We have the Jedi knights who fight against the ‘evil’ galactic empire. But what’s evil about them? What do the Jedi stand FOR? The Avengers avenge but what are they avenging? It seems not even Captain America stands for ‘truth, justice, and the American way” anymore. The whole DC comics CW has a real problem in defining what they stand for. It’s clearly not traditional sexual morality. But what is it? This has led to DC comics vigilantes complaining about other vigilantes. Why? You don’t like them because they don’t have your budget? That’s absurd. If anything the fact that ordinary citizens are putting their lives on the line to fight crime and injustice (in the shadow of a corrupt police force) makes them MORE heroic than Batman, not less.
In the Tales of Tiberius, it was important to me to get a grip on what we are fighting for. I think every group of heroes needs a code. If it’s honor, what is honor? The bushido code may be imperfect, but at least it’s a code. I came up with the Imperial Ranger’s code of chivalry by looking at traditional historic codes of chivalry. I think it gives a good idea of what is expected of heroes. I’d love to see the Justice Society and the Avengers start coming up with oaths. What do you stand FOR? The classic boy scout oath could teach our modern politicians something.