Heroes are people and people are human, this is a distillation of the various thoughts I’ve had as the Tiger Woods drama has unfolded. It was the topic of a dinner party I was at. My husband updates me regular. My son left a comment on his Facebook page about being glad that Tiger did not lay one finger on his wife.
What I think after the jumble of thoughts I’ve had and comments I’ve heard is this:
Stop expecting humans to be saints.
Saints and angels are in the heavenly realm.
This is the earthly realm – were people dwell.
There are heroes among us
but they are not usually those the media choose to spotlight (except in one tiny segment on the nightly news or occasional print articles.
Heroes are ordinary.
They are your mother, your father, your uncle, your son.
Your daughter, your niece, your neighbor, your friend.
Your pastor, the barista, the janitor, the cook.
Heroes are among us every day.
The security officer. The guy who collects the garbage.
The social worker, nurse, doctor on call.
The builder who makes the structuresthat do not fall.
Heroes are people who just do their jobs.
The fire-fighter, police officer, pilot.
The farmer who plants and the farm workers who harvest.
The teachers, coaches, daycare workers who care for our young.
The activity directors, ordelies and volunteers who unburden those nearly done.
The train, bus and cab drivers who get us from here to there.
Heroes exist every where.
Heroes have integrity.
Doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do.
Without fanfare or applause.
Heroes answer the call
to serve others,to serve our country.
Heroes are the emergency responders who risk their lives to save the thrill-seekers who engaged in folly.
Heroes are the strangers who answers other strangers’ calls of distress.
Heroes are not athletes,
although athletes can do marvelous things.
Heroes may not be rich,
although the wealthy can give heroically.
Heroes need not be famous,
although entertainers can elevate issues in the public eye.
Heroes are fully human:
They sweat, cry, make bad decisions, and, like all of us eventually, die.
A human can be a hero and do magnificent things.
Heroes can be foolish, stupid, dishonest and vain
In other words flawed and therefore fully human
The most important heroes are there when you need them in small and large ways,
Not usually sanctioned by the media, often noticed at all.
Don’t prop up your heroes too high.
Don’t be astonished when they fall.
I can enjoy Beyonce and Blige, Mr. Wonder & Jay-Z.
I can support Obama & admire his family.
I can aspire to the deeds of Mandela, Malcolm or Martin.
I can be inspired by Oprah, Geoffrey Canada or any number of people doing great things.
But I recognize that their achievements are the achievements of human beings
and that as human beings they have failings and frailties that stand beside with their triumphs.
This does not cause me despair (although it sometimes hurts and creates dismay).
I admire the special ones and heroes among us in spite of and because they are human.
As am I. Perhaps there is a hero in me.
Maybe I can be a hero for myself.
Maybe I can be a hero for somebody else.
Heroes are people and people are human, no more, no less.
(Note, I cannot put my hands on my Collected Poems of Langston Hughes. When I do, I’d like to quote from his poem,
Crowns & Garlands, which came to mind when I started thinking about the topic of heroes. It ends with this line, “Yeah, I like Ralph Bunche,* but I can’t eat him for lunch.”)
*Ralph Bunche won the Nobel Peace Price in 1950. For additional information, go to: http://www.ralphbunche.com/
ADDENDUM: A friend recently wrote a piece about Tiger Woods addressed to his fans that I highly recommend, Tiger Mauls Owner.
Now I want to look for that poem too! I have a book of poems to check. I agree about heroes. They tend to be the regular people among us who do great things without anyone even knowing. And I won’t even talk about Tiger, because no good will come of that.
There is a song be folkssinger John McCutcheon. He begins talking about a moment when Cal Ripkin steps to the stage and says, “I’m only doing my job.” Most ordinary heros are just doing their job I think…and they’re all around us.