I had dozens of heroes in my life. Nearly all of them were people I never met, but had only read about or seen them on television. One of the first heroes I remember idolizing was the Lone Ranger.
Each episode opened with this commentary:
“A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty "Hi-Yo Silver! Away!" With his faithful Indian companion Tonto, The Lone Ranger, daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains, led the fight for law and order in the early west. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. The Lone Ranger rides again!"
I was hooked from the very beginning with the desire to set things right in the world. That hopeful, childish yearning to be a hero is something most people shed when they become adults. Some genuine heroes like those that were recently featured in the Stars and Stripes supplement to the Washington Post are some of my modern day heroes. Reading the stories of bravery and courage makes me weep with love for men and women, who risk everything to protect their comrades, serve their country and fight for a cause. I can’t help but feel there are thousands more stories we have never heard. It’s one of the primary reasons I support the Americans in Wartime Museum. I have a keen desire to teach young people who their heroes should be.
I fear for our youth who believe a basketball player or a football player who looks more like a street thug than a professional, is making an extraordinary amount of money for playing a game, and is selling products like shoes and sports drinks to those bedazzled kids. I am concerned for our children who idolize singers and musicians spewing obscenities and calling it music. I dread the results of children exposed to the “heroes” of today’s television, movies and video games who use graphic violence to create ever increasing levels of acceptance of violent behavior and I worry about the “heroes” created on the internet who are teaching our youth everything from how to make a bomb to how to hack a computer.
Where is our sense of values? Where is the need to set things right in the world? How have we evolved into a nation that will stand by and watch a crime perpetrated and not rush in to rescue the victim? What does it speak to us and what does it mean to our future when we “don’t have time”, “don’t want to get involved” or worse, “don’t care, it’s not my problem?"
Heroes don’t have to be movie stars or soldiers. Sports figures or musicians are not the only people our children should emulate. You have the power to change that. A hero is anyone willing to sacrifice their own comfort for someone else. You can be that person as a mentor, a parent or a friend to our youth.
Let’s teach the good parts and limit exposure to the bad. Guide children toward living better lives and real productive change. If you need an example to share, these two links are polar opposites. There is nothing sinister about Your house is blocking my view ... here's $4.2 million, unless you count the total selfishness and waste of resources. When I saw this, all I could think was the value of that demolished home could provide housing for literally hundreds of people who are living homeless in the United States, thousands who are homeless in third world countries.
Then, read this one: Visions of Life among India’s Urban Poor
The Gates are my heroes today. Bill and Melinda may not look much like The Lone Ranger and Tonto, but they are sharing the wealth they’ve earned with those less fortunate. The money helps, but it’s the thought, the feeling, the need to set things right that makes them heroes to me.