I had a brief conversation this evening with a friend about how sad it is that our children have virtually no heroes to look up to anymore, and those that are lauded by our media today all seem to have some sort of dramatic fall from grace. Michael Phelps is one example...a sports hero with a photo of him taking a hit off a bong. Great, I'll point him out to my kids and say I want them to grow up to be just like him. Marion Jones, running superstar whose entire career was tainted due to drug use, and sadly she is only one of hundreds of sports starts whose seemingly incredible feats have been called into question when steroid use or other performance enhancing drugs were discovered.
We have Hollywood stars whose careers are catapulted when they have a run in with the law, are involved in an extramarital affair, or caught in some other compromising circumstance.
There are religious leaders who condemn others of the very acts they are committing themselves, and Governors who are caught in unethical and illegal acts.
Where are those we can point to and tell our children "Wow, now that is a hero."? We don't dare do so with anyone in the public eye anymore for fear of some sort of sordid act being revealed that we then would prefer not to introduce to your young child.
The sad thing is that there ARE people out there doing amazing things, everyday heroes that are making a difference in the world around them, sports stars who are trying their best through their own actions to combat the image of "Sports Star as Thug". There are political leaders who really do care and work hard for their constituents, and there are religious leaders who daily live lives of virtue.
Why don't we hear about them? Do media outlets really think that we wouldn't view/purchase/listen to such stories? Are we, as a society, so stunted now that web sites like TMZ.com and others present what the public now considers "newsworthy"? Are scandals all we really want to hear about anymore? Or am I the only person who feels as if the truth is being distorted, that we are being sold a bill of goods that is not at all what we would desire?
I also find it so discouraging that there is rarely any show that is appropriate for our family to watch on TV anymore in the evenings. We can't even have imaginary heroes anymore!! With the lone exception of shows featured on HGTV and Extreme Home Makeover, we seldom watch anything at all. I mean, safe or not, how many times can you enjoy shows with your 6 year old like "House Hunters" and not eventually heave a heavy sigh of boredom? And why does every show on Disney or other "kid" networks have to portray parents as putzes and kids as smart alecks? And then we wonder why our children today are so disrespectful with adults. Heck, they have spent hours and hours being programmed to think they are far smarter than any grown up!
We have gone to the extremes of buying old shows on DVD, we play games in the evening and read books, we are not screen addicts, but once in awhile I would love to sit down with my kids and watch a show that glorifies something other than drug use, sex, or behavior that is abhorrent.
And yet the salvation of it all is in our everyday lives, isn't it? It is in the man who works hard to put food on the table for his family, it is in the woman down the street who volunteers her time and talents to help a civic group. It is in the boy at school who stands up for the kid on the playground who is always getting picked on. It is in the Pastor, Priest or Rabbi who tries his best daily to teach a moral lesson or bring someone closer to God so they may be comforted. It is in the school board member who stays late at meetings making them tired for their "real job" the next day because they care about the education of children who are not even their own.
There are heroes in our lives, if we look for them, and we have been fortunate to have several in our own lives. They aren't glamorous, they haven't been featured on the 6:00 PM news or in the National Enquirer. In a time when it is so easy to see only the fallen heroes, it does a heart good to think of the unsung heroes...the ones who are not beautiful or famous or who get no recognition at all for what they do...the ones who do it simply because it is the right thing to do, not for any sort of reward. We all have them in our lives, but they continue to walk around incognito, not because what they are doing is unimportant but because we are so busy focusing on the fallen that the acts of the unsung remain unheralded.
It is easy to lament the lack of Hollywood Heroes, it is easy to get discouraged by the seeming lack of character of those placed before us who have been hoisted upon gold plated pedestals. But maybe the fault is our own, maybe it is in our insatiable appetite as a society for scandal. Or maybe the fault lies with us, maybe it is merely our own quiet resignation and acceptance of what is, rather than fighting for what we wish could be.
I think I will spend this week looking for heroes, the unsung kind that surround me. I know they are there, I just need to rip off the shades of discontent to find them.