My dad and I were discussing the other night about what makes someone great. What are the ingredients of a hero? This world we live in worships the affluent, those with athletic prowess, those with exceptional beauty, and those with power. But are these the things that really create a heroic individual. In days gone by heroes were those had self-sacrificial love for others. They were those who were brave and courageous and fought worthy battles. They lived honorably and exhibited Godly character.
I was recently struck with the fact that we have lost this heroic, courageous dimension in our modern 21st century, while at a library book sale. As I perused the shelves, which contained mostly juvenile volumes, I was surprised by how many of these books were about courage, bravery, valor, and those who did worthwhile daring deeds. I began to realize that sixty and seventy years ago this sort of valiant vocabulary was commonplace. Kids still grew up with the stories of Revolutionary war heroes, and Civil war greats, and they admired men like Theodore Roosevelt.
But that was then and today the story is very different. Today we don't read of "Those Who Dared" or "Stories of Courage and Valor" , we buy our kids "Diary of A Wimpy Kid". We have fostered in the children of this generation a weakness and puniness, with no moral rectitude or brave fortitude. We have a culture of enervated young men who possess no strong virility, and a society of young women who don't understand their honorable position. Boys don't look up to men like George Washington today, they look to males like Kobe Bryant. Girls don't look up to heroines like Abigail Adams, they look up to the likes of Miley Cyrus. Is it really any wonder that our society is so messed up?
We need heroes again, real heroes. Men like Stonewall Jackson, William Wilberforce, and Booker T. Washington. Women like Martha Washington and Pocahontas. Men and women who call us to be better, who beckon us to higher things. Fathers and Mothers, brothers and sisters can also be great heroes. And, of course, as a Christian, Jesus Christ is the ultimate hero, the one by which all other "heroes" are measured.
So in a society that no longer has heroes to admire, but idols to worship, look up to those who are truly heroic. Look up to those who are truly great and be a hero yourself. Remember what Longfellow wrote in his "A Psalm of Life",
"Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait."