Heroes

For reasons I can’t explain, I thought it would be a good idea to watch all the Star Wars movies in succession and then go to see the new one when it came out in December of 2017.  It seems easy enough, doesn’t it?  Except that there is some controversy regarding the order in which to view the movies. 

After reading various opinions online, I went with the recommendation of my cousins and watched Star Wars IV A New Hope, followed by The Empire Strikes Back, Return Of The Jedi, The Phantom Menace, Attack Of The Clones, Revenge Of The Sith, The Force Awakens, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

You might think that all of this was just to be able to go to the Clinton Theater to watch The Last Jedi and snack on the delicious organic popcorn with real butter.  And of course, you’d be right. But that’s not the point I want to make today. 

Even though I saw the first three Star Wars movies back in the day when I was but a youth and I’ve seen bits and pieces of the following three, I couldn’t help but feel really disappointed in the heroes of the first six movies.  My crush on Luke Skywalker didn’t stand the passage of time and I found him to be a whiny baby who felt he was getting the shaft.  There’s nothing wrong with having ambition and a desire to see the world outside of your hometown but make a plan and do it. And Anakin Skywalker? It seemed like he was crying every five minutes, at least when he wasn’t breaking the Jedi rules and doing the wrong thing.  It’s not wrong for a man to cry, but sometimes you’ve got to suck it up and do the right thing, even though there will be pain and life might not turn out the way you’d like it to.

It’s not just Star Wars, though. It seems that some of today’s ‘heroes,’ both on screen and off just aren’t.  Once I made that statement, I felt it was pretty presumptuous of me unless I could actually define what it means to be a hero.  According to the dictionary, it’s a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities.  Hmm, not that helpful.  What achievements are outstanding, what is courage, and who determines what qualities are noble? 

Instead of drilling down further on definitions, I decided to take an informal poll of people of varying ages, sexes, and backgrounds.  The youngest kids – threes and fours named a Superhero, which didn’t surprise me.  That’s their experience – heroes are Captain American, Wonder Woman, Batman.  The kids that were a little older had a slightly broader definition – someone who defeats the bad guys using their strength or super power. 

Among the adults (with a couple of exceptions – like the smart alecks that said a sandwich), the answers were surprisingly similar.  A hero is someone who is self-sacrificing, willing to give up whatever they have – even their life – for someone else or for the greater good.  It didn’t matter if the someone else was a stranger or a loved one.  The other thing that came up over and over was that a hero wouldn’t expect any recognition, publicity, fame, or even a pat on the back – the hero would do the right thing because it is the right thing without expecting anything in return.  A couple of people also mentioned that that a hero stands up for something when no one else does, something they feel is wrong or right but that no one else is doing anything about so they decide to be the one that does something.

Most touching was the response of a woman who felt that anyone could be a hero – and in her life, it was her two grandmothers – one who was a widow that raised three children and the other who married, ran a farm and household, and raised six children having only one arm.

Here’s the best thing I learned about heros from these wise people. Any of us can be a hero.  There are many things that are terribly wrong in the world right now and there are millions of people that need rescuing – not necessarily from the clutches of an evil villain, but from the struggling and suffering in their day to day.  You and I – and even better – you and I together, can make a difference and be the hero in someone else’s life.  Not for the fame, not for the glory, but just because it’s the right thing to do.  We don’t need a movie to show us a hero, we just need to be one.

If you’re feeling like you don’t have what it takes, here’s a song by Matthew West that I think will help to put things into perspective. 

What’s stopping you from being a hero today?