Heroes and the Heroic Movements: One Might Save a Life, the Other Can Change a Culture

Symptoms, from which we suffer physically, are most often the body trying to protect itself or the body trying to heal itself. Pain can often be nothing more than the body remembering what it felt like to feel good.

Spiritual symptoms, from which we may also suffer, may not be much more than the soul’s valiant attempt to protect itself, or to heal itself. Soul suffering may not be much more than the soul remembering what it felt like to feel good.

There is a famous picture of  a hero. The hero wears full fireman regalia, which seems to fit him as a uniform met for the man, not a costume rented for the moment. Behind him is the wreckage of a building, in his arms the near lifeless body of a small child and on there is an angst available only to the most suffering of servants. He is a hero. He knows he is in danger. He knows the child he tries to rescue is almost certainly doomed. He is a hero.

A young American serviceman lived in our town. He reportedly killed over 160 enemies of America in order to defend his fellow troops. He was still helping veterans the day he died. He is a hero.

A teacher volunteered year after year to do unpaid service for young people very different from her. She made a difference in the lives of literally dozens, People who had not future before her had a future after he work. She was a hero.

There are still heroes in our culture. They are the people who go in as everyone else is going out the other way. They are persons of sacrifice and suffering.

There are still heroes in our culture.

My argument here is that heroes are wonderful. They heal the culture, save the soul, change the mind. I argue for a Movement of Heroes, who will remake our nation so completely that the American Experience will last again as long as it has lived. The Heroic Movements of History, and the one being gestated in our midst at this moment, seem to have certain things in common. They have the symptoms of heroism, which seem necessary for the body politic to protect and heal itself.

Heroic Movements are theological in nature. Even preachers can lead them. The American Civil Rights Movement was led by preachers. Martin Luther King was a preacher. Malcolm X was a preacher. MLK was such a powerful leader his opposition felt it necessary finally to kill him. Malcolm X was so prophetic in his cleansing word his own people finally murdered him in full view of a ballroom filled with people. Great Heroic Movements are theological in nature. They are not merely materialistic, or finally ethical. Their leadership believes God cannot possibly leave things as they are in their world. The Heroic Movement Leader is a dissident to her society and a heretic to his faith system.

If one hopes to be remembered as a Reformer-Hero thirty years from now, with names like MLK, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Andrew Young, et al, we might remember each of these persons as a Cultural Reformer with a deep system of faith-belief. Heroic Movements may not be religious, but they are theological.

Heroic Movements have a large, entrenched majority pitted against them. The entrenched powers that be have only a marginal power opposed to them. The Heroic Movement cannot be in the majority and be heroic. The Heroic Movement may be increasingly vocal but it still represents a relatively powerless bloc.

Heroic Movements appeal to Western governments, the types most often thought sympathetic to minority interests. The Western governments early and often express sympathy to the interests expressed to the Heroic Movements. However, they often do little or nothing until forced to act. The Western Governments remain inert because they fear the Moderate Majority of the dissenters and truly fear the Agitated Minority Fundamentalists, who are often violent.

The American Civil Rights Heroes were told they would be given Separate but Equal facilities, though the facilities proved anything but equal. Had they been demonstrably equal at any time or place, the philosophy behind the phrase is one no Theology can embrace. For decades, the Western Governments simply said minority persons were happy with their lot, when, in truth, they were so completely repressed, they could not speak. Finally, they were told over and again, just to be patient and wait. A century after the American Civil War most American Blacks could yet even vote. Patience, in the form of silence and fear, had had its day.

The Governments of all nations must respond to the interests of the Heroic Movement in our cultural midst today. There strident response is unlikely without meaningful agitation.

In the Heroic Movement, dissidents live in real, actual physical danger. If they are fortunate, they are merely ostracized by their fellows. If they stay the course, they may lose employment, homes, relationships, wealth and even life itself. They risk everything to gain a bit more freedom for themselves and their posterity.

So, is there a Heroic Movement in our American culture that fits each of these criteria? I believe there is such a group. Twenty years from now, sentient persons may remember their names as we remember the names Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, et al. They have odd sounding names to Westerners, but they live here in our midst and we will probably come to know them if we open our eyes to the reactionary dangers in our midst.

They are women and men. They are dissidents, a tiny part of their faith system and very much opposes by an entrenched majority. They are in real danger.

They are men and women who lead a dissident group in American Islam. They argue that Islam needs a Reformation, one like the Christians had and the Moslems missed. These persons, some of whom claim atheism over Islam, meet each of the criteria I listed for a Heroic Movement, a culture changing movements, like the American Revolution or the American Civil Rights Movement. Movements are blocs of heroes, some unnamed, who risk much and often pay dearly for their cause.

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