People learn by imitating each other. And even when they're supposedly finishing learning, they still imitate each other. Look at the grown men who wear team shirts. Do they think they can get the athlete's power by imitating them? By imitating those whom they admire? It appears so.
But in the past - and even now, I suppose - they imitated the most valuable men. In the West, when religion was taken seriously, men tried to model their lives on the life of Jesus.
There is even a book called The Imitation of Christ. Which, by the way, is very much worth reading.
I define an "Alpha" (which is a word I never use in conversation and which I wish would go away because it is so embarrassingly adolescent) as a man who tries to be the best he can be. What the Greeks, again, called "arete" (excellence) which leads to "eudamonia" "well-being."
A leader? Yes, sometimes. And that means to get men to follow you willingly ("Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.")
A teacher who tries to get people to be the best they can be? Yes, of course.
It's not charisma, it's not "charm" (which really means to ensourcel people by the use of words).
I seriously doubt Jesus had charisma and "charm." But he had something much more important, such as speaking with authority. Even that doesn't mean that much unless you know what you are talking about.
It's not being popular with women. It's not having lots of sex with many different women. It's not being a bully and being crippled with the "Dark Triad."
Men have sought to imitate Jesus. In the East they've tried to imitate the Buddha. In the Middle East they've tried to imitate Muhammad.
They've always done these things to improve their lives and to be as happy and fulfilled as they can be. That's what imitation is: I'll imitate you so I can be like you and be happy - to achieve well-being.
Most people, especially the young, imitate people, whether it's acting like a whigger with the saggy pants and the hat turned sideways, or imitating some of the worst advice in the Manosphere, in hopes of turning yourself into the Manosphere's version of an "Alpha" and getting all the girls.
That's what heroes really are - people you want to imitate, in the hopes you can achieve what they achieved.
When I was a little kid - like five - I clearly remember that Elvis and Sean Connery (as James Bond) were heroes.
And early in college I definitely remember what a huge hit Star Wars was. Luke Skywalker (Joseph's Campbell's "Hero on a Quest") and Han Solo.
These days, people pick up bits and pieces of those they admire. Public school, for all practical purposes, isn't worth a damn. Who do they teach students to emulate?
How many these days can emulate their parents, to find out what a good marriage is like?
The reason so many people want to move their kids into good schools and live in good neighborhoods is because they don't want their kids imitating the wrong people.
These days, I can't think of any heroes worth imitating. So, of course, people are going to look to the past, to the tried and true. And that, in many ways, is not such a bad idea.