By Charles F. Harper
We human beings are entrusted with a very special place in creation; a place
that calls us to embrace and live by certain values including kindness, generosity,
forgiveness, joy and peace. Heroes help us define, develop and live by those
ancient Greeks said, "Tell me who you admire and I'll tell you
who you are." According to this logic, choosing heroes is important
because who you choose often determines the character of a person and
a people. The greatest conquerors in history understood this truth.
Replace the Czar and icons of the Russian Orthodox Church with Lenin
and you have Soviet Union. To deprive people of a hero or the opportunity
to choose one is the ultimate form of conquest.
We are in need of heroes more than ever. Collectively and individually
we continue to be a people in search of sages; anxious and eager to
find people worthy of our love and loyalty.
Embracing the wrong kind of hero has the potential of fracturing the
sacred bonds of society. In the absence of positive heroes, a society
will choose others as it did in Nazi Germany and Serbia. Choosing the
wrong kind of heroes sets in motion a negative energy more powerful
than nuclear fission. It can split the nucleus of the human family and
set off a veritable chain reaction of sexism, racism, hate, violence,
greed, jealousy, resentment and corruption.
today's culture we have substituted celebrities for heroes; celebrities
from whom we expect little and sometimes get less. So anxious are we
as a culture to find someone in whom we can place our love and loyalty
that we choose from the riotous parade of the newly famous and already
nearly forgotten. And when we lose them, nothing is really lost for
their successors have already claimed the next fifteen minutes of fame.
Celebrities attract our curiosity while real heroes send us to the source
of their vision and dreams. We often look at celebrities to find out
what our values should be and when we do, we discover we haven't looked
Real heroes strive for the imperishable trophies. Their rules and goals
are different. They live and work in the world, but they embrace the
eternal values of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
humility, and self-control. While fame, fortune, and power may come
their way, attaining them is not their goal. Heroes who deserve biography,
autobiography or memoir are people who may attract attention, but direct
that attention beyond themselves to something greater. They help us
aspire and live up to the values they embrace in their daily lives.
Heroes can be found in the daily stuff of life, from parents to teachers,
from counselors to that unexpected angel who helps you change a tire
during a dark and rainy night. They can also be found in our religious
and historical traditions, and among the unsung activists and brave
politicians who have taken a stand against the status quo. As one historian
wrote, "No great man lives in vain. The history of the world is
but the biography of great men." Real heroes take us one step closer
to fulfilling our human potential. What we need is an international
organization that identifies, spotlights and promotes heroes from around
the world who personify values that strengthen the fabric of the global
village in which we live.
the full essay, unedited essay here.
Photos courtesy of childnet international
Images created by Collage poster for MY HERO by Michelle Chia