Friday, July 26, 2013


We all have heroes.

We all have people to whom we look for inspiration.

We all have those folks that remind us of who we want to be.

They may be the legendary or mythological figures of old.

It may be a literary character whose life provides the lessons and wisdom that we need to live our own lives.

We may still look up to those comic book superheroes with the Bam! Slam! Pow! superpowers.

Which of these is your hero?
Whose philosophy and spirituality inform your life?

More importantly, who are your real-life heroes?
Those ordinary people quietly doing extraordinary things for others and for the world.

It may be a favorite teacher, a parent, or the neighbor who helps everyone-- unasked and behind the scenes.
It may be your friend who endures unending tragedy and suffering with grace, dignity, and cheerfulness.
It may that single mother who on a minimum wage salary raised five sons-- all of whom are successful, decent men.
It may be the man you just read about in the news who ran into a burning building to save people he did not know.

Or the soldier willing to die for our freedoms.
Or the activist willing to fight tirelessly for our rights.

Or the person who thinks she can't endure another day, but arises in the morning and do what she has to do. .
Who are your heroes?

While there are many people I admire, many people I imitate and emulate-- there are no greater heroes to me than our young people.

Youth get a bad rap these days.
They are so lazy
They are always hooked to screens and earphones
They don't know how to talk, read, write or _________(fill in the blank).
They are rebellious, ignorant, sarcastic, rude and _______ (fill in the blank again).
Apparently this negative view of our youth has been their albatross for centuries.

Socrates addressed this issue:
The children now love luxury.They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect to their elders...They no longer rise when elders enter the room.They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and are tyrants over their teachers.
Plato also weighed in on this topic:
The young people of today think of nothing but themselves.They have no reverence for parents or old age.They are impatient of all restraint.They talk as if they alone knew everything and what  passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them.As for girls, they are forward, immodest and unwomanly in speech, behaviour and dress.
While this ongoing negativity may have been then or may be now true of some few young people, I find most of the youth I meet are not these negative stereotypes.  They are trying to do their best, be their best, and live the lives we expect them to live.

Do they make mistakes? Yes!
Do they sometimes need us to redirect them? Yes!

But many young people in the past did good things, even heroic things.
Philip Hoose gives us a glimpse of history through the eyes  of  courageous kids who were there making the history along with  the grownups in We Were There, Too!: Young People in U.S. History .

He collects  untold stories of  youth who set out to get rich, help feed their families, or to  seek adventure, safety, love, freedom and justice. Some of these stories we are able to read today because the young person kept a diary or journal then. Some stories we know now because someone else wrote about them then.

Many of our youth have done remarkable things more recently.
We can read about some of these young folks and their positive activities in  It's Our World, Too!: Young People Who Are Making a Difference by Phillip M. Hoose and Kids with Courage: True Stories About Young People Making a Difference by Barbara A. Lewis.

 And many of our youth are today doing extraordinary and courageous things as part of their ordinary everyday lives.

My current young hero is Malala Youszfzai, the young girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for  promoting education for girls in Pakistan.  She has been actively  working toward this goal since 2009.

In her speech to the UN on  July 12, her 16th birthday, she demonstrate that bullets have not silenced her efforts:
Let us pick up our books and our pens.They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.
Click here to read the full article New York Time article  and watch a video of her speech.
For additional information see this Huffington Post article and video.

Also you may want to read my earlier post, The Rights of Children.

Who are your heroes?

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Who are your heroes?  Who are the people you admire and strive to emulate? Who are the people that make the world better for you? For everyone?
What are the qualities that you believe make one a hero?

Write an essay about the role of a hero in today's world.

Write a praise poem to one of your heroes.

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