Monday, July 06, 2009

Looking for a Hero?

We choose our heroes based on who we are. In so doing, we seek out those individuals who seem to embody our best (and sometime worst) aspirations. We seek icons that seem to have achieved what we hope to become.

Steve McNair, former NFL quarterback for the Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens, was such a figure. McNair never won a Super Bowl, but it was not because he didn’t try. Many fans and fellow players described him as a “warrior” who week after week, despite innumerable injuries, put his body on the line to compete. In an age when most of us don’t even walk across the room to change a television channel, McNair personified determination and perseverance under pressure, working through the pain.

On July 4, McNair was found shot to death in a condominium in Nashville, evidently at the hands of a young woman found dead in the same room. News reports indicate that the couple had been involved in a romantic relationship for several months. In the light of these circumstances, friends remind us of his community service, his work with young athletes, and his commitment to local development. They point out that he was a good man, and I have no doubt that he was.

The expected commentary at this point might be to talk about how our heroes have feet of clay, but such an observation is too easy. Heroes are just people like us, no better and no worse. I rather think in terms of the biblical account of David—shepherd, soldier, rebel, king . . . and murderer. David was the hero of the people of Israel during his life and long after his death. He personified their great longing for faithfulness to God, unity among themselves, and a benevolent leader. But the scriptures point out to us that David was just a man. He could be petty, jealous, greedy, and lustful like any one of us.

So does this mean we should stop looking for heroes? No, I think we should start looking for them closer to home and with more realistic expectations. We can find a hero in the single mother who works two jobs and still tries to keep her children in church. We can find a hero in the retired person who gives his time to Meals on Wheels and visiting shut-ins. We can find a hero in the young woman who goes to Africa to help women develop their basic skills into a profitable cottage industry to support their families. We can find a hero in the person who gets up every morning, says her prayers, and goes off to work as a responsible family member and citizen. Are these persons flawed and lacking in other areas? Certainly they are, but all of these embody heroic values of consistency, faithfulness, vision, and service.

Who are your heroes?

1 comment:

Sherwood said...

I quite agree... as I approach my 80th birthday, my concept of hero is determined by the person's contributions to life, whether large or "hardly worth mentioning" any act that demonstrates a person's willingness to give, makes him - or her, a hero in my book