This is the opposite of the Chosen One. An ordinary person sees a need and steps up to help. They don’t have an agenda, or ulterior motives, just a sense of right over wrong. Maybe it stems from all the 80’s movies I watched as a kid. The group or lone wolf who wants to change the world for the better still resonates with me.
Destiny forces the Chosen One into saving the world. The reluctant hero decides they have a moral obligation to risk life and limb. Of the two, I’d prefer the latter over the former. Both are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. The reluctant hero can be any of us though. The Chosen One is set apart. Destiny doesn’t care how they feel about it.
I’ve lost track of how many Chosen Ones bemoaned their fate. “Why me? I didn’t choose this!” The Reluctant hero doesn’t ask why me, they ask, “If not me, who will?” It has a more honest, more human, feeling to how any of us might respond given the situation. That is the core of the idea for me. Whether it’s the lone office worker stopping tanks on their way to Tiananmen Square, or the guy fed up with red tape taking on the system directly, defiance is my jam.
I’m not trying to encourage random acts of violence either. The movie, Turk 182 comes to mind when I think of this trope. Non-violent protest and civil disobedience can still bring change. It may not be as sexy as a kill-dozer, but not every story has to include death, destruction, and mayhem.
In my lived experience, the right person, in the right place, at the right time, can make change happen. Others have to embrace what begins with one voice. The chorus is powerful because they sing together, not because of the soloist. No matter how great that single voice may be.