Everyday heroes all around us

I was as saddened as anyone by the story about the Olympian Oscar Pistorius being arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. From the media reports, it sounds like their relationship may have been a stormy one, but it’s hard to know what really happened. But it, and the recent reports about Lance Armstrong and other athletes, makes me wonder if we are idolizing the right people.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve admired athletes in the past. When I played tennis in high school, Billie Jean King and Chris Evert were both athletes I loved to watch play. I admired their determination and athleticism. However, I didn’t necessarily think they were people I should pattern my life after.

The same could be said of television, movie and music celebrities. While many of them have compelling stories of struggle and accomplishment, I don’t think I would want to emulate their lifestyles or deal with all of the temptations that accompany those lifestyles.

It seems to me that celebrities aren’t the people we should be looking up to or looking to as examples for ourselves or our children. I think we need to change our approach to who we hold up as heroes, and focus on everyday heroes.

The teacher who takes extra time out to help their students become good citizens or good readers, or eager learners deserves to be held up as a hero. The plow driver who goes out in weather everyone else stays home in, and clears the roads, after a fierce winter storm deserves to be held up as a hero.

The utility worker who gets the power back on after a terrible storm knocks it out for hundreds of people deserves to be held up as a hero. The home healthcare worker who may be the only person that many shut ins or elderly see during the week deserves to be held up as a hero. The doctor who serves patients in a rural community where they may be the only doctor for hundreds of miles deserves to be held up as a hero. Or the soldier who has served our country honorably, defending our rights and freedoms.

The most important thing we can do to identify whether someone should be held up as a hero is what they gave and how many people they affect, not what they got in return. To me, entertainment shouldn’t be ranked as high as the acts of people who cure a disease, save lives or help make our community and our world a better place to live in. The best part about everyday heroes is that anyone can become one. The odds against becoming a professional athlete are incredibly high compared to the odds of being able to have a real impact on someone’s life by volunteering or even by donating money to a favored charity.

My family has decided that our goal this year was to become everyday heroes, not only to Daniel, but to our community, by volunteering more, and finding opportunities to help others. I hope you’ll join us.