We were in Mt. Pleasant, Texas yesterday. Home of Pilgrims Pride chicken and Randy’s Hamburgers which I had for lunch and still seem to be paying the price for (They were that good. I ate way too much).
It was a beautiful day; one of those days that make you feel like you are in the home stretch and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. And if I haven’t recently recounted the many reasons I love fall and Thanksgiving let me do so now. Football. Leaves. Turkey. Apples. Pumpkins. Cool weather. Family. And high school football games where you bundle up, eat a Frito pie, and cheer your Alma mater on. Life is good.
I got an email this week that has piqued my interest. It simply said, “If I saved a person from drowning, does that make me a hero?”
Normally this would not stick with me except I immediately thought, “What’s a hero?” Then I woke up this morning and on the front page of CNN there was an article on the top ten heroes as chosen by a bunch of really smart, charitable, well-respected people (the best hero will be selected and presented by Anderson Cooper on Thanksgiving night). And then oddly enough as I began reading a new book today the dedication said, “For mothers (especially single mothers), who are the unsung heroes of the world.”
Then the song Hero by Mariah Carey came on the radio!
OK. Just kidding about that part, but dangit if I haven’t been singing that song all day. This is usually how God speaks to me, a barrage of mediums yelling the same word or message at me for a few days until I stop and think, “Hum, I sure have been hearing a lot about heroes lately, I wonder if that means anything? If God is trying to teach me something about that?”
Truth is, I have no idea what the heroes thing is all about.
But I would like to attempt to answer her question while I am figuring it out, so here goes.
If you saved someone from drowning, you did an amazing thing. You were brave, quick under fire, composed, and responsible. You were courageous enough to act when you could have been stopped by fear or timidity. Your actions were definitely heroic. But our actions don’t always define us.
I can be rude one day, but that does not mean I am a rude person in general. My husband can be absolutely perfect for an entire day, but that does not mean he is the epitome of perfection. Likewise, you can save a life one day, but that does not mean you are a Savior. It just means that on that one day you acted with incredible heroism.
I’m just not sure we were meant to be heroes. The fictional heroes we know about, like Spiderman and Batman do a lot of amazing things for people, but they also take on the evil in this world all on their own. Likewise people that we think about throughout history that we would call heroes, like Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Theresa, and Gandhi have each given their entire lives to not only bring about good, but to battle the evil injustice of this world too. Their heroism has come at a very, very precious price and at the end of the day, these people didn’t save the entire world, just some of it.
At What Cost?
Last night I saw the movie Flash of Genius about a man who created the automatic windshield wiper but had his idea stolen by the Ford Motor Company. All throughout the movie you see this man decide to battle on behalf of inventors and little guys so that big corporations, like Ford, would learn their lesson. He didn’t want their money; he wanted credit for what was rightfully his. It was the idealist American story of the little people sticking it to the big guys and fighting for freedom. But at what cost? He lost his wife, his relationship with his kids (for a while), his job, and he actually had a mental breakdown and lost his sanity.
In the end he was a hero to his kids and to so many other people who had been abused by the system because he chose to fight at whatever cost, but he lost such important parts of his life in the process. And while I cheered him on and thought what an amazing thing he did, my husband was quick to point out that at some point choosing to be a hero means the loss of everything. And where do you draw the line? Was his cause truly heroic or selfish? Did he die a hero who fought injustice or just a man that gave up a lot of his life?
My point is: take this guy, or Martin Luther King, or any martyr, or any person who has literally changed the world with their lives and label them a hero and you have just turned them into small demy-Gods who bring about change by fighting evil. And that is an awfully big thing to say about someone.
We can be champions. We can act heroically. We can even change the world. But to be a true hero means to sacrifice every single thing. And I only know of one person that has done that perfectly. And, it wasn’t superman.
In my opinion, people need champions; we already have a hero.