Where are the Heroes?
I had the distinct privilege of attending the funeral of Louis Zamperini a couple of weekends ago. Zamperini was a former Olympian who became a WWII war hero and lived through amazing events outlined in the books Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and Devil at My Heels, written by Zamperini. While the details of his life deserve close examination, it was in the celebration of his life at the funeral, that I began to wonder: Where are the real American heroes today?
I had introduced my two young sons to the original Superman just days before. They were enthralled with the idea of a man who could fly, save falling women and helicopters, and turn back time to save someone's life. I want them to be inspired by this American notion, this Superman, who goes beyond normal human strength and endurance to reach beyond normal human morals to save lives and improve the lives of those around them.
But who can they look to around them?
In a decaying moral society, when values are looked down upon, and religion is shunned. When Islam is beating down our doors and threatening our existence and even still those among us say there is no enemy, we need not even fight. Just smile and say "peace, peace."
When it becomes the "moral" and "patriotic" way to steal money from those who have earned it to give it to those who have not and we don't even blink at the thought.
I was just beginning my soul search when the Ebola outbreak took a front page not just on the news but in my heart. The second (technically third) American to contract Ebola in Liberia is our dear family friend, Nancy Writebol. I grew up under her watchful eye and played with her children. My mom considers Nancy her closest friend to this day. She made me dolls as a girl and every day I put coffee in my cup from a sugar bowl she gave from Africa for my wedding. I followed her as she gave her life to orphans and was grieving with her when she had to leave them to move on to Liberia. To see her now, spending her life's blood and sweat to aid people in poverty battling a disease so deadly, all for the cause of God's glory: I had found my hero.
And I realized they are all among us. People putting themselves last, not first. People on the border, with little resources, little backing from those above them, a different sort of Spartan, holding the wall, wondering if anyone will join the fight.
The non-politicians joining politics because they see something wrong in the country and they want to fix it.
The missionaries, giving all to advance a cause not of themselves, but ultimately all themselves. Seeing Dr. Brantley, another Ebola victim, choosing to lay his body down again and again just yesterday so that Nancy could take the only experimental serum they have – this is heroic behavior above and beyond the call.
We have little choice, fellow citizens, but to cultivate this in ourselves. To begin in whatever small way there is in our lives by putting others first and hoping there is some hope for our society to recover the notion of “hero”. Not as ESPN designates, by announcing your sinful proclivities to the world. As Nancy, and Dr. Brantley are showing us. As Louis showed us. Maybe there is one of us. Perhaps 300 of us, perhaps more. As my brother reminded me: it only took one man to change the whole world. Let it begin today.