Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Hero is More Than a Sandwich

After the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — and the Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration — it got me thinking about the idea of heroes. What is a hero? What makes a hero? How do we decide who a hero is?

Some people would call those, who eventually stopped the gunman's rampage, heroes. Some may even call Ms. Giffords a hero for fighting to survive. Though others would disagree and say she was simply a victim. This discussion was also around right after 9/11. Who are our heroes? Were our heroes victims, or just those who risked their lives to save others?

I think the national discussion misses an important point. If we define heroes by the demonstration of courage to bring about a social good, we have to ask what we mean by "good." What is good? How do we determine what is good, if we do not consider God? And if we do consider God, doesn't it only matter what God thinks is good, not what we say is good? Because we don't all agree. If we don't agree in what is good, how can we agree on who a hero is? We may have some consensus on public servants such as teachers, firefighters, and police officers as heroes. But what about people like Carrie Prejean, Sarah Palin, Margaret Sanger, Barak Obama, or George W. Bush? We can't agree on them.

I think the best definition for a hero is whomever God would commend. And specifically, whomever Jesus commends. That is our best objective criteria. Otherwise, we pick our heroes by opinion polls, likes, or political alignment. God doesn't see it that way. That's why people such as poor widows or working parents can be heroes — worthy of emulation.

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