Heroes


My co-worker and fellow blogger shared this article with me in which the columnist challenged people, in the new year and the new decade, to look at a few things through fresh eyes. The writer listed 52 suggestions, one for every week of the year. The first topic of the year is Heroes.

Heroes.

That’s not a word or a concept I encounter all that much. Well, ever really. I associate heroes with boys for some reason. Little boys look up to fire fighters and police officers as their “heroes.” My nephews, and now my sons through hand-me-downs, have a set of toys called “Rescue Heroes.” They are action figures including firemen, policemen, mountain climbers, scuba divers — all strong, muscular characters who perform daring, dangerous feats that require extreme physical strength and bravery.

Then there’s the G.I. Joe slogan, “Real American Hero,” referring to Armymen who do the military’s most difficult, most dangerous, and most crucial missions.

In the news, heroes are those who are hailed for saving a life or lives — a 9-1-1 operator who talks someone through a tragedy, the rescue personnel who save people from sweeping flood waters, the people who try to stop a terrorist from hijacking or blowing up a plane.

Heroes in the Bible are the characters we hear about over and over again, the ones who shaped history. Moses, Noah, Abraham, David.

So in thinking about all the “contemporary” ways I think about heroes I wondered, what do all of these different impressions of heroes have in common. I settled on a phrase I’m sure we’ve all heard before so my thoughts are not profound at all. But all of these different stereotypes of heroes are all ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Ordinary people. Doing extraordinary things.

If that’s the case then we all have half of what it takes to be a hero. We’re all ordinary. The key is the ability and capacity to be extraordinary. Is that something we all possess as well or can only select people be extraordinary? Certainly not. Certainly the ability to be extraordinary and thus be a hero is not reserved for the elite. I think we all can do extraordinary things if called to do so, if the circumstances are right, if we step out on faith and obedience.

The final key to heroism, I believe, is humility. The 9-1-1 operator, the firemen, the heroes in the Bible didn’t view themselves as such, and often reject praise or attention for their heroic efforts.

So I guess, to me, heroes are ordinary people, doing what they are called to do, in faith and obedience and humility, with disregard for themselves and emphasis on others. On the surface that bar seems pretty low. In practice, I think it’s actually pretty high.

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