Who is a hero in your life?

With July 4th just around the corner, this seems like a good time to acknowledge just how messy and chaotic-seeming a thriving democracy can be. Democracy takes guts. It demands a lot of the people involved and pushes its participants to the brink of much of what they hold dear in the name of compromise, in the name of principles, and in the pursuit of a society that has chosen to exist together. E pluribus unum.

Our Founding Fathers risked their lives and those of their families to break free from England’s colonial rule. What they did was heroic, in the highest sense of that word, which is the focus of today’s post. I’d like you to think about the heroes in your life. Who do you admire and why? By my guess, nearly all of them will be people you know. What brave actions have they taken or qualities have they demonstrated that inspire you? Be specific!

The good news is that our heroes, like us, are flawed human beings, so it’s to be expected that you’re not going to approve of all of their traits; but what I’m asking you to reflect upon is those qualities, those examples-in-action that have caught your attention sufficiently that when I pose this question, they are who comes to mind.

Now, having spent a minute or two thinking about heroic qualities, I’m going to push you in a direction you probably don’t want to go. Think of somebody you dislike or who irritates you, a lot. Truth be told, they, too, possess some quality or have done something in their lives that you can admire—and no, saying something like, “She really knows how to manipulate a person to get her way,” or, “He’s amazing at his ability to ignore things he doesn’t want to see, I wish could do that,” doesn’t count for purposes of this exercise.

Take a moment, close your eyes, and try. What positive quality does this SOB have that is admirable, if not outright heroic? This can be a single instance you witnessed, years ago, or it can be as mundane as their genuine devotion to their children.

While I, personally, believe the term “hero” is overused in our hyperbolic society, I believe that we can find things to appreciate in the behavior of those we, otherwise, have little in common. It is this sort of respect and appreciation which makes our democracy possible. How about the courage or patience a coworker demonstrated during an interaction with an abusive boss? What small courtesy or act of consideration or restraint has inspired you? How have you tried to incorporate that same spirit into how you live your life?

Americans are known for their big, noisy, splashy, obnoxious celebrations of themselves—and I’m ok with that. We’ve got a really good thing going in this country, but we need to be sure we do the work necessary so future generations can build on what’s available to us. And what I mean by this is living honestly, thinking critically, and allowing enough room in any political or public policy debate such that genuine differences of opinion are not shouted down through intimidation, political correctness, or moral condemnation. The qualities that our Founding Fathers evidenced in their courageous acts, their belief in Judeo-Christian democratic principles which was the source of their inspiration and sacrifice—these beliefs and qualities are available to us today and usually evidence themselves in the least dramatic acts imaginable.

What about you? You have the freedom to incorporate the heroic qualities of any person you admire. Who do you want to be?

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One Response to “Who is a hero in your life?”

  1. Gardner Powell Says:

    I am enjoying getting to know you through your blog, cousin. Well done.

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