If the tragedy in Aurora teaches you just one thing it should be this – we all have the capacity to be a hero. The question then becomes, are you prepared to do heroic acts when the opportunity to be courageous presents itself?
Jon Blunk, Alex Teves and Matt McQuinn were young men in the prime of life. They must have been in love; there must have been plans for the future, unfulfilled dreams and hopes. The only people who really know are the people who were closest to them. What we do know is that on July 20, 2012 they did something that sets them apart from most of the world’s population – they sacrificed themselves for the sake of saving another life. They placed themselves in harm’s way to shelter someone they love.
It seems unfathomable to me, a person that is obsessed with self-preservation that someone would risk their life for someone else but these men did and they lost their lives in the process. Could I do the same? I don’t know because I have never been placed in that situation ever in my life. But I know that I love my wife and I love my sons and if there is ever a moment in which I have to choose between my life and saving one or all of them, then I truly believe that I would gladly and willingly give up my life for them.
Having said that, I wonder what it takes to be a hero having never been one in my lifetime. Or have I? Have you? Are losing your life and/or putting your life in peril the only two criteria for heroism? Or are there hero’s all around us who do quiet acts of heroic proportion but we don’t recognize or acknowledge the person or the act(s) because they just aren’t…well, heroic enough?
Former Alabama Riley Governor Robert Riley was credited with saying, “Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed.” The three men who risked their lives at Aurora and many like them acted selflessly without regard for personal safety. Can I be a hero simply by saving the lives of others, not through one amazing feat of courage, but by many tiny acts of service and love for a person who’s suffering in some other fashion? The kid who walks to school each day with his young friend to make sure that he is not bullied by their peers; the mother who cares for a terminally ill or special needs child. The young girl who works a part-time job while going to school full-time to help her parents pay the bills or the woman who has dedicated her life to teach literacy and improve the quality of hundreds of lives.
I don’t mean to diminish the incredible act of courage displayed by these men because they are truly heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. However, I think it’s important to recognize the hero potential within each of us by acknowledging the acts of kindness and service that we can do quietly and without any expectations on a daily basis.
Years ago the world was introduced to the story of Oskar Schindler whose life and acts of charity became the subject of the movie “Schindler’s List”. Another lesser known hero of the holocaust is Sir Nicholas Winton, who helped save hundreds of children in what was then Czechoslovakia from the awful fate suffered by their parents and loved ones. There are many examples of this type of heroism but it all started when men like Schindler and Winton saw an injustice, a need and were fuelled by a desire to right a wrong or to comfort those in need.
I want to be more like these heroes. I want to be a man of worth. But I’m not waiting for the opportunity to come to me – I am going to go out and find occasions to be a hero for someone who needs my help. It may be within my own family or in my community and it may be through the things that I write in this blog. Wherever there is a chance for me to serve I hope that I will be led to them.