Years ago, you could look at this country, and could say that one of the things that really made this country great was it’s people, but what made us, our people, so great. A number of things, but perhaps the one thing that really set us apart, was our willingness to try. We were a people who made an attempt to live extraordinary lives, and to do extraordinary things. We were not afraid to make an attempt, and we were not afraid to fail. When I look around me now, I see a lot of people who have the appearance of trying, of making an attempt, to do something, but upon closer examination I see that in many the attempt is half-hearted at best, and at its worst, nothing more than a staged ploy to appear to be what they truly have no intention of being.
At one time, our people were heroic, not only our soldiers and first responders, but everyday people. You don’t agree with this statement? Ralph Waldo Emerson said that a hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer. As a people we used to symbolize that mentality in that we were willing to go a little further, work a little harder, do a little more than what was required. The farmer, the steel-worker, the truck driver, the housewife, the factory-worker, people everywhere showed what true heroism is all about in that they were willing to do what all hero’s do. They faced life with all its hardships and heartaches resolute and stalwart. It wasn’t that they hadn’t known defeat, but in the face of it were undaunted. They dug in, bent their back, and pushed back even harder against the waves of adversity and misfortune that threatened to overwhelm them. These people, these everyday hero’s, were unafraid to try, and who never failed to make an attempt to do and to overcome any duty or obstacle that came their way.
I’ve often wondered what’s the difference between those great people of yesteryear, and the people of today. Was it the times they lived in that called them to be heroic, to be courageous? Were the times they lived in so much worse than the times in which we live now? I don’t believe that environment, circumstances, events, are the only things that give rise to heroism, but rather that heroism is a product of belief, faith, and trust. To be a hero is to be someone who does what needs to be done no matter the cost; to be someone who is willing to sacrifice oneself for something far bigger than themselves..
Throughout history, heroic people, have always been the standard-bearers of courage, honesty, and truth. As a culture, as a people, we have always believed right or wrongly that our hero’s hold all the best traits of character, and in truth they do. For most of our history, our country has consisted of a quietly heroic majority who have gone about the business of upholding the finest and best that our country has to offer.
What has happened to our people? How did we devolve from being a people of quiet heroism, and inner strength, willing to try, to attempt the impossible, to becoming a people who think that the federal government should take care of them, and that the rich should share with them? When did heroism become a display of depravity, debauchery, and disgrace rather than a courageous, valiant, and united stand against evil?
I said earlier that heroism is a product of belief, faith, and trust. Heroism has its roots in the ground of truth, and no person, and no people, can be heroic who don’t have an understanding, an awareness, and a commitment to truth, and their in, I believe, lies the difference between the heroic and the destitute within our nation, and even within our world.
I close with this last thought. I believe that Jesus Christ was and is, and will forever be the embodiment of truth and therefore heroism, and christians, in my opinion, should be some of the most heroic people on earth. I know that not everyone will agree with me, and that’s okay, but just consider for a moment that I might be right.
Here’s some food for further thought:
It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually try to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
Theodore Roosevelt, speech before the Hamilton Club, Chicago (April 10, 1899), in Swindoll, Hand Me Another Brick, p. 79.