I came across a quote posted on Facebook recently. The quote was from writer C.S. Lewis who said:
Since it is so likely that (children) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.
This led me to the question, “What is a hero? Who are my heroes?” When I looked up the word hero, it was defined as “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” The question is novel to me because I was not asked this question very often. My childhood questions included, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” and “What college do you want to go to?”
Although the earlier definition of hero is useful, it does not produce in me a useful answer. With a little more online searching, I found that Christopher Reeve said, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
When I use a definition like this, my parents come to mind. Not because the answer is convenient or induces layers of sentimentality, but because I learned more about them earlier this last year through a late night conversation. I learned how much they sacrificed for me to have the life I have now – one where I can type thoughtful posts from an iPhone on a train heading home.
The brief version of the story they shared with me last Thanksgiving is one that exemplified sacrifice, dedication, and literal sweat and tears to make me into the man I am today. My mother and father made sure I lived in America and they worked countless hours running a business to sustain the family. This showed me how hard work, their personal and spiritual faith, and a good education contributed to who I am today. Additionally, they supported me in times of triumph and moments of suffering and woe.
Formative experiences like immigrating to America, having parents who worked long hours to provide for me and my brother, or being supported in character forming ventures like karate or football have fostered traits in me like kindness, patience, empathy, creativity. They have given me the permission to express myself in a way that is congruent to my core beliefs and convictions. I do not live this out perfectly or consistently; but like my parents, I aspire and work on carving out a way through the world as it is today.
Where does this anecdote leave you, the reader? I encourage you to ask yourself who your heroes are. Not just why you admire them, but also contemplate what values and character traits they exhibit and whether you have them or aspire to have them.
In a world where the inevitable adversary emerges, not having a countermeasure shows that than enemy’s character trait shall prevail. Thus, ask about your friends’ heroes and talk about your everyday heroes. Note their values and work towards them. Read books about them, blog about them, journal about them, make art about them. Be on the lookout for my next post. I hope to share with you a few more heroes of mine.
Photo Credit: Caleb Jones