Last Wednesday I left our bible study and on the way out of the church parking lot, Mark told me the news events of the morning. I was shocked and horrified. We lived in Ottawa for a number of years so I could picture very easily where everything happened. Canadians across the country were glued to their electronics, soaking up the latest news coverage.
On Thursday, I was watching video of the Sergeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers going back to work. As he entered the House of Commons, there was a standing ovation from all the MPs. A long one. It was well deserved. He had saved many lives with his bravery. Thankfully we’ll never know how many.
A hero. His full head of grey hair and lines around his eyes and mouth are not what we think of when we think hero. He’s a man getting up in his years. Grandfatherly. Not someone you’d pick to save the day.
Isn’t that just the thing? Anyone can be a hero. Kevin Vickers, a retired RCMP officer, went back to his office to retrieve his weapon and then confronted the killer. He shot and killed him. What would have happened if Kevin Vickers had gone back into his office and hid? It’s a sobering thought.
Less than twenty-four hours later, he was back at work. As I watched him march the mace down the same halls, where he took the gunman out, I wondered what was going through his mind. What his emotions were. I can’t even imagine. Later as he stood by the doors waiting for the applause to die down even a little, he humbly nodded his thanks. Brave and humble. True character traits of a hero.
Ironically that Wednesday at bible study, we had been studying Mordecai from the book of Esther. We were discussing how he had been honoured for saving the king’s life. It was overlooked for a time being but once King Xerxes discovered his error, Mordecai was celebrated for his patriotism and saving the ruler’s life. After being paraded around the city of Susa on the sovereign’s horse and wearing royal robes, Mordecai humbly went back to work at the king’s gate.
I don’t even need to draw the parallels for you. It’s so black and white.
We fling the term hero around a little too often for my taste. Athletes are deemed heroes for winning medals and trophies, but are later arrested for DUI’s and drug use. They abuse their partners. Their children. They really don’t seem to care about anyone other than themselves.
We treat celebrities like heroes and gods because why? They have lots of money, look good in clothing and are on TV? There’s a difference between being good at your craft and being a hero.
I’m not saying that some of these people are not heroes in their own right. Some are. Many are not. I think we need to redefine in the media and in our own worlds what really makes a hero. There are many people who are heroes who will never be recognized for it in their lifetimes. People who serve their families, their neighbours and their communities with selflessness, love and generosity. They show bravery when others would stay in the room and hide. Their humble attitudes allow them to go to work the next day. If they are thanked, they can accept it and then move on. Their egos don’t need to relive it repeatedly.
Many times there are no thanks, no parades in their honour or a standing ovation. They serve with love and loyalty. Then they fade away. But the difference they made in someone’s life lives on. It can change the course of history.
My boys love their superheroes. One day when they grow up, and the superheroes don’t seem so great anymore, I hope they still have heroes. Men and women, who model bravery and humility. Who give generously and love even more generously. Who inspire them to live bravely and make the world a better place.