Ten years ago I read a book that discussed the breakdown of the hero stereotype in America. It argued that because the media has been relentless in revealing the private lives of public figures in the last 30 years, we are now disillusioned by reality. We no longer have heroes to live up to.
I mostly agreed with the author’s point at the time. I had fantasies that people must have had more integrity. The most memorable proof of this involved Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was reported that the press voluntarily did not discuss FDR’s wheelchair because they did not want the public to think of him as a weak leader.
I thought the public must have had more hope because they were shown the best parts of people and the depravity. I thought the public must have had more bravery because they were shown more bravery.
My illusion was knocked off its pedestal in July 2013 when TIME reported that the secret service enforced FDR’s “agreement” with the press with, well, force. So, both the executive branch and the media were always pushy. As Matthew Pressman states in his article, “the past was every bit as complicated as our own time.”
It seemed to me that my generation is no more corrupt or violent than any generation before it. We have different struggles with technology, but we are the same. We are all flawed humans. And I despaired a bit at humanity in general after that. At least, I despaired until this week.
With the celebration of Veteran’s Day last Wednesday bookended by two weekends of football dedicated to the men and women who served our country, the topic of bravery has been on my mind. (yes, I watch a lot of football – Go Giants!)
Every year I am humbled by the courage it takes to leave everything you know and everyone you love to put your life in danger. There is nothing I could ever do to repay that debt. I can give to charities that support veterans, but there will never be a price tag high enough to exchange for that commitment.
As I mused on this, I realized my perspective on humanity is changing. These man and women are clearly heroes. If we are the same flawed humans, that also means that we are every bit as much heroes as the decades of men and women that came before us.
The heroes the press publicized in the 30’s and 40’s were truly doing heroic things. They were just leaving out some of the gory details of reality such as illness and posttraumatic stress disorder and secret affairs. This was done, no doubt, to sell more papers and increase ratings. Today, the only difference is I live in a time when more gory details and more dirty secrets are proven to get more clicks and increase ratings.
Veterans are not the only heroes I can point to. As I look around me, I see single parents struggling to do the work of two. I see addicts standing up at meetings and admitting their flaws. I see adult children caring for their aging parents. I see cancer survivors bringing hope with each birthday. I see volunteers and philanthropists working to make this world a better place.
The heroes are still here. They are still standing up and fighting. They never left. We just stopped focusing on their accomplishments.
And now that I see heroes, I cannot unsee them. They’ve inspired me. I will choose to focus on their quiet courage, which pushes them to live one more day as best they can. Welcome back to my world, heroes. Thank you for your courage. I salute you.
Cyber November is here!
|Ginny Priz is a Christian coach, writer and speaker. Ginny has overcome her own drama with a prosthetic arm, alcohol, panic disorder, and codependency. She has a passion for guiding others toward the same peace and freedom she has come to experience. Ditching drama is possible for anyone “armed” with God and the Serenity Prayer! It’s never too late to start your own Serenity Journey.
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