In Feudal Japan, Samurai warriors fought loyally for their lords. If their lord should be slain, or they fail him in battle, the Samurai would commit "Seppuku" - a ritualistic form of suicide consisting of a self-inflicted knife wound to the chest. But the intent of these warriors was not to show their lords that they did not fear death, but rather to be remembered. Every member in their family line would henceforth be known for their ancestor's loyalty.
In today's individualist modern society, we see Seppuku as foolish. Who would end their own life simply to be remembered? I would. And many others. For in the end, humans only live a feeble 70-or-so years before they die, and after the funeral, who will remember the programmer that helped to create Windows? The scientist who helped code the Human Genome? Or you, for that matter? No one.
Life is too short, many would argue, to chase idealistic dreams of immortality and fame. Many are content to live out their lives in low-profile jobs that maintain a family. For from this they obtain happiness, and what more do we need? There are many who find happiness with jobs that entertain, for example (there are many others), but these jobs have little effect on the world around us. And when these people die, they have lived their life in happiness, but on the larger scale done nothing. Where, then, do we find heroes? Role models? The very people that society rallies behind?
In those who choose to reject this complacent happiness. Unlike their counterparts, these people choose to impact the world around them, for good or evil. Not with the intent of being remembered, but that occurs as a result. Everyone remembers Ghengis Khan, Alexander The Great, Leonardo Da Vinci, and others, but certainly not because they helped to raise a family by performing tasks which did not impact the world around them. And from this, we draw a trend.
From ancient times, the records we can recover tell us tales of great military commanders and writers. But as we approach the present, the roles of scientists and artists become remembered. Today, with such a daunting population, how can one become one of these icons? Entrepreneurs and movie stars have dominated the twentieth century (With the exception of a certain government leaders). But in the modern age of the internet, where the world can be enlightened in an instant, there are enough movie stars and entrepreneurs to make their appearance a normal one. What, then, will be the next class of heroes? Who, in the twenty-first century, will become the next George Washington, Homer, or Hitler? Ruled out are those who exist under the guise of simple society, but who of the few that step out of Plato's cave will change the world to come? Why not you?