1a: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability
b: an illustrious warrior
c: a person admired for achievements and noble qualities
Using 1c as the definition for a real (as opposed to mythological or legendary) hero, who are your heroes? Who do you admire for achievements and noble qualities?
Do you aspire to become like him or her, or them?
I don’t have any heroes. Never have.
Perhaps that’s my cynical journalistic attitude showing forth. Perhaps it’s my Christian faith taking center stage.
Easy to find flaws
No one is perfect. Everyone is flawed. (I know my own flaws very well, at least most of them, so I’m not pointing any fingers outward that aren’t pointing even sharper at myself.)
It’s easy in today’s America to focus on flaws and not on “achievements and noble qualities.”
- President Trump has plenty of both, depending who you ask, and a thick skin required of all presidents to push his agenda despite opposition.
- Pick an athlete who is a role model, any athlete in any sport, and it’s not hard to find skeletons in his or her closet. Same with actors and actresses, or anyone else in the entertainment industry. And musicians. And politicians. And church leaders. And … Sigh.
- Bill Cosby had a wonderful career, but his reputation is now destroyed. Bill Hybels, a respected evangelical leader in the Chicago area for decades, just had his reputation tainted by charges of sexual harassment. (What is it with men named Bill? Not a good trend.)
No one is immune.
If I were to become a high-profile public figure for some reason, you’d find a skeleton in my closet too. Real or imagined. Perhaps real to you, but not to me. (Just ask the current U.S. Supreme Court nominee; I won’t be surprised if this is the end result.)
I aspire to be like …
Who is worthy of hero status?
It’s politically correct these days to revere U.S. military veterans as heroes. We give them standing ovations all the time.
Do we emulate them? Or, do we clap politely and then forget about them as we move on with our daily lives?
Many active-duty personnel find themselves in harm’s way across the world, and for that we do thank them, very sincerely. Back home, their families move every few years, meaning the spouses and children don’t get much of a chance to gain deep friendships and connect with the community where they live. Military families know this going in, but still it’s hard and the divorce rate is very high.
That’s not a lifestyle most of us aspire to.
This time of year, we cheer on our favorite football teams on Saturdays (college) and Sundays (professional). We cheer raucously when our team does well, and boo lustily when our team plays poorly.
Sometimes we do both in the same game.
The latest hero here in Cleveland is Baker Mayfield, who led the Browns to their first victory since December 2016. We see him as the franchise’s savior.
Until he has a bad stretch, when we will run him out of town and seek another quarterback to latch on to with unrealistic expectations.
That’s how we treat our heroes.
Don’t treat me like that
Not only do I not have any heroes like that, I don’t want to be one. Just leave me alone.
But life doesn’t work that way, does it?
Every one of us is being watched and evaluated. No exceptions.
Parents are heroes to their young children.
Our co-workers are eyeing us, with admiration or disgust, or with something in between. We are watching them too.
We evaluate teachers, police officers, other drivers on the road, those with an opinion on social media, the waitress at our favorite restaurant …
Who can pass such an inspection?
It starts with respect. I write about this all the time.
1a: to consider worthy of high regard: esteem
b: to refrain from interfering with: please respect their privacy
2: to have reference to: concern
Heroes are outsiders we emulate. Respect most often is given to people we know personally who earn it. We rarely respect public figures. And if we do, we easily take it away. See Bill Cosby.
It takes time to earn respect, and to give it. Most of us aren’t willing to spend that time.
Instead, we judge who and what we don’t know well. We have surface knowledge, so we think we’re experts.
We don’t know what we don’t know.
Even worse, we don’t care.
Two sides to every story
Instead of emulating possible heroes, we judge them and put them down, trying to elevate ourselves above them and failing miserably. We don’t respect anyone.
I’ll ask again: Who do you aspire to be like?
Who are your heroes?
If I said Jesus, you’d probably laugh. Because you likely have no idea who the real Jesus is.
The Jesus of the Bible isn’t anything like the vast majority of Christians portray Him. Many people reject Jesus for that reason. Instead of searching for the real Jesus, we assume we know, just like we assume we know all the facts about Judge Cavanaugh before any hearings or investigations have taken place.
Our pre-conceived notions prevent us from uncovering truth.
The real Jesus was not a white man with blond hair and a soft complexion who always voted Republican. He was crucified, which means he angered some people enough that they killed him. And he was Middle Eastern.
Do we know that? Do we care? Or do we judge Him based on what others say about Him, instead of doing our own research?
Is Jesus a worthy hero?
Do I really aspire to be crucified? Am I willing to defend truth that far?
Is LeBron James a worthy hero? To the children in Akron whom he’s promised a free college education, yes. To many Cavaliers fans, he was a hero but no longer is because he’s taken his talents to Los Angeles.
As with anyone, there’s two sides. Depends who you ask.
Many people have hero-like qualities, but a true hero?
I’m still searching.