After a half century plus a half dozen years I have a lot of history. Fifty six years is a historical footnote no one would notice but I have lived my 56 years in the same general geographical area and the vast majority of it in public life. I have met a few people.
As a result the people I love most dearly must often feel they are secondary in my affections for they often must seem secondary to my attentions. I am connected to many people as a result of a life time spent in public life in religious service. That is my whine for tonite. If I live to be twice my current age and do nothing else, I could not possibly atone for all my personal failures in time management toward those who love me.
End of the Whine.
I started last night writing about heroes. I mentioned two posts ago about persons who show heroic flair even as their character flaws set in motion the trap-spring of fate. I want to do a bit more explanation about what to look for in a hero. I don't know many heroes but I flatter myself to think I should know one if ever I met him.
A hero understands he ought to show devotion to a cause, rather than just pick a side. For instance, the naif can think himself as devoted to his country, right or wrong, but that would not work so well in the Germany of 1933-1945 or the Deep South of 1835-1865 or Stalinist Russia.
Since he is devoted to a cause rather than to a side, a hero may seem to change his allegiance(s) more than once in even the shortest life. The American Revolutionary patriots were born British subjects. If defeated, they would have been hanged as traitors but we reverence their memories.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German national and a minister of the Gospel, whose anti-Nazism led him to lie, to plot sedition and finally to plan murder. We will never be sure if Bonhoeffer belongs with the Liberal or the Conservative but he can never be lamed with the timid.
A hero, once ennobled by his cause, contributes nobility to that cause by his courage, conviction and commitment. At the onset of the American Rebellion (the greatest act of domestic terrorism yet perpetrated on American soil) President Lincoln said he wanted to save the Union; that if he could save this Union by freeing all the slaves, he would free them all; that if he could save the Union by freeing none of the slaves, he would never free a slave. He was stating his intent to save the Union. Once ennobled by that struggle Lincoln added gravitas to Union salvation by freeing all the slaves he could touch and promising to free all the slaves he could reach. He ennobled his already noble task.
A hero understands pragmatism but is not deafened to the higher calling. Franklin Roosevelt won his first election promising to run a balanced budget. The economy was so ruined he could not stop with that utilitarian promise. Roosevelt had it in his grasp to comfort the privileged class but he had it in his heart to assuage the pains of the people feasting on boiled tumble weeds in the American Southwest.
A hero knows he might listen to our tales of hurt but he will never lead us just to get even or one up on our attacker. He is neither petty nor small.
A hero keeps score internally.