How do we define our heroes these days? Where can we look for heroes?
How about heroes in politics? Wait. No, I guess political heroism is an oxymoron. Can’t go there.
How about music? Lots of fans, young and old, spend billions of dollars to buy music from “artists” (and I use that term loosely) whose “artistic contributions” to society glorify extra marital sex, drug use, domestic abuse, power, making and spending money, rape, violence against women, and getting all you can get from others by any means necessary, to name just a few music themes. The more the shock, the higher the stock, seems to be their stock-in-trade. Lots of young people, who, by nature, don’t have any sense or moral foundation, idolize these “artists” and the “music” they produce.
But the kids aren’t the only ones who drool over these “artists” and their “music”. Lots of adults, mostly amoral, dig these “artists” as well.
Can we call these “artists” heroes? I don’t think so.
Then we have the “entertainment” (and I use that term loosely as well) industry. Hollywood. I’ve always wondered why people whose job it is to pretend they’re someone they’re not make so much money. I used to pretend I was Roy Rogers and the Cicso Kid and ride across the dusty plains on the arms of our living room chairs. (I had to do all my riding while mom wasn’t looking. She didn’t like me pretending our furniture was my horse.)
Very few, if any, of the real pretenders in Hollywood live lifestyles that I would call heroic. Some of them are good at pretending to be heroes, e.g. Charlton Heston pretended to be Moses and George C. Scott pretended to be General Patton.
But can the pretenders themselves be regarded as heroes? I don’t think so.
Sports has lots of super stars that receive super salaries to do super things with their super talents. Pardon me for saying so, but I don’t see very many super things about their lives. What I do see is super heroes making super commercials for super endorsements and getting paid beau-coup bucks. I also see super sports figures getting arrested on charges of performance-enhancing drugs, robbery, DUI, rape, domestic violence, solicitation, and on and on.
As a kid growing up in a small Iowa farm town I had heroes. We played baseball all summer long in vacant lots and Little League. Then on many evenings we liked to gather around the car radio in the driveway with our dads and to listen to St. Louis Cardinals baseball games. We hung on every pitch when Stan “the Man” Musial came to the plate.
Stan Musial was my sports hero.
Baseball is all about statistics. Stan the Man had some impressive ones. According to the record books Musial played 1,890 games in the outfield and 1,016 games at first base. He was primarily known, however, for his hitting. The left-hander led the National League in hitting seven times and in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and hits six times each. He won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 1943, 1946, and 1948, and in 1957, received Sports Illustrated magazine’s “Sportsman of the Year” award. His 3,630 career hits ranks fourth all-time, behind Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, and Hank Aaron, and his .331 career batting average ranks 30th.
His hitting was also very consistent. He had exactly the same number of hits in home and away games, and batted .336 at home and .326 on the road. He batted .340 in day games and .320 at night.
And, according to the record books, Musial was never ejected from any of his 3,026 game appearances. He married his high school sweetheart, and stayed married to her. He never got arrested. Never took drugs. Instead, he was a model citizen, an encouragement to his teammates, fellow players, the fans and thousands of youngsters. All who knew him praised him, not only for his baseball skills, but for his character and integrity (on and off the field) and for being a positive role model and a gentleman.
I didn’t just have sports heroes. I admired courageous men like Dr. Tom Dooley for his humanitarian efforts in Southeast Asia in the 1950’s. The men who fought in World War II inspired me, like my dad.
I’m inspired by courageous men like Dr. Bill W, who allowed God to use Bill’s alcoholism to develop the 12 steps of recovery and found Alcoholics Anonymous, both of which have helped millions of men and women manage that disease and live satisfying, productive lives.
I’m inspired by sacrificial lives of people like Sister Teresa and Hudson Taylor, and Dr. Martin Luther King.
But, they’re not around now.
Who do we have to admire (not idolize, admire) these days for their courage, their investment in humanity, their clean living, their accomplishments, their character?
Who can we call heroes today?
I can’t think of even one.