A boy doesn’t have to go to war to be a hero; he can say he doesn’t like pie when he sees there isn’t enough to go around. ~ E.W. Howe
One of life’s greatest comforts is having someone to look up to. When you find yourself searching for answers that just won’t come, having someone you sincerely admire and respect to turn to or emulate is like finding a lantern on a pitch black night. All you need to do is ask yourself, “What would she do?” and the answers become—if not crystal clear—a bit easier to find.
Sadly, we live in a world today where heroes are in short supply, The kinds of people Americans once loved and respected—people like FDR and Martin Luther King, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays, Albert Einstein, Jonas Salk, Billy Graham—seem to have disappeared from our cultural landscape, replaced by prominent figures we neither like nor trust. We are inundated with negativity…flooded with images of corruption, greed, depravity, violence and tragedy everywhere we turn. It is little wonder that as people and as a nation we feel lost and afraid.
Fortunately, however, perception is not reality, especially in our media-driven digital world. The truth is that we are surrounded by heroes—not the larger than life variety that once permeated our national consciousness, but real, honest-to-goodness human beings who have overcome great adversity, who see beyond their own needs, who behave in ways that we would all do well to emulate. It’s hard to see them, sometimes, because they are not the kind of people who look for the limelight. It’s up to us to seek them out. And the first step towards doing that is turning off the media blitzkreig and looking around at the people we see every day.
If you want to see what is going on in the world around you, the first thing you must do is invite the world in. So, the first part of this exercise is to make a pact with yourself to turn off all of your media for a few hours a day. No TV, no computer, no smartphone. The world you see there is not real. It is what the people who create it want you to see. Some of it is worthwhile and some of it is not. But it is not the world you live in every day, which—as long as you are enmeshed in your digital devices—is passing you by.
Next, start writing in your journal during your daily digital hiatus about the people you admire and why. Each one of us knows dozens of people who have qualities that we would like to incorporate into our lives in some way: a neighbor who is especially patient with her children, a co-worker who works two jobs to make ends meet, a friend who volunteers at a homeless shelter, someone we see at the bus stop who always has a smile and a kind word for everyone she meets. These are the kinds of people we forget when we allow ourselves to be caught up in the drama that is all about ratings and nothing about the real world. They are the real heroes whose very existence can be a comfort and a source of hope to us, if we just let them in.