What’s happened to heroes in our culture? Can they only be found in fiction?
Where are the real-life ordinary people who face astounding odds, and prevail, because of innate goodness, strength and a sense of justice?
Okay, maybe I’m feeling grumpy. I’m not unhappy to be older, not really. But every year, on this date, I search for life models, for people to look up to.
Right now, I’m not finding much to admire.
Of course there’s always fiction. Heroes aplenty grace the pages in our genre and others. If I were feeling nobler, I might write a post about them. That’d be the self-sacrificing thing to do.
Nah, not today. I want to whine.
You see, this is a real yearning, heartfelt and painful. I want to know — beyond a Pollyanna, pop culture optimism –that real living, talking, breathing heroes walk among us.
I know that certain professions lend themselves to selflessness — community service, law enforcement, medicine, education. If I were in a different mood, I’d be singing the praises of the everyday champions in our lives, of their great hearts and generosity.
But I want something different today. I’m looking for the inspirational oddball; one I can relate to as a regular person. My soul screams for examples of ordinary Joes and Josephines who become epic, who rise above the normal to the extraordinary, without thinking of the potential for a book deal or television movie.
For some reason, in the past, heroes were easier to spot. Two come to mind without effort. Both glimmered during the darkest moments of the Holocaust.
First there were the "righteous gentiles"– non-Jewish people who risked their lives to prevent even more deaths.
Couples like Chinue and Yukiko Sugihara sacrificed so much during those same years.
I want to know that these most-admirable people are still being born, that they exist in this crazy world.
These are the real-life heroes I crave to learn about now.
At lunch, a few days ago, a friend said that today’s heroes are working behind the scenes, secretly, just as those from WWII did. She might be right.
Maybe I’m not looking in the right places for these true stars of humanity.
Or, it’s possible I should just stop watching the news for a couple of months . . . The quiet selflessness of heroism often doesn’t lend itself to speedy soundbites or sexy visuals.
Maybe this kind of courage isn’t required in the world at the moment.
I don’t know.
Do you know any? Are you willing to share their stories here?
That’d be the best birthday present of all.