Monday 17 September 2012

Artie Set The Bar Pretty High.

I was watching “October Sky”, again, and there is a part at the end… I’m not worried about spoiling the movie for you because if you haven’t seen it yet, in all likelihood you never will watch it. Philistine! Anyways, there is this part at the end where Homer tells his dad that Werner Von Braun isn’t his hero, indicating that his dad is his hero. I have to admit that I tear up every time I see this. (“October Sky” is an anagram for the name of the book “Rocket Boys”.)

The term “hero” is bandied about quite a lot these days. It seems that almost everyone is a hero and perhaps that is true in a sense. Sports figures are often set up to be the heroes of little boys and girls and when a kid is caught up with one of these guys it is said to be hero worship. I am pretty sure that none of these guys would call themselves heroes. If someone helps an accident victim and doesn’t stay around to get the credit, then he is called a hero. Ever since 9/11 all firemen have become heroes, even those that had nothing to do with that tragedy. Yes, firemen do an amazing job and I can’t imagine life without having them around.

I guess by now you can tell that I really have no clear cut idea about what a hero is or isn’t. Superman, Batman, Green Lantern etc. were the heroes that I grew up with, but being fictional, it is pretty hard to hold them up as a standard to measure actual human heroes. Someone that runs into a burning building is a hero. Someone that saves a life by putting theirs at risk is a hero. Someone willing to die for a stranger is a hero. The thing that I have trouble with is that these people just do what they do without thinking. They know it is the proper thing to do and they do it. Wow! I wonder if I were put in that kind of situation would I do the same. I just won’t know until I am in that kind of situation.

I don’t know that I would. I would want to and afterwards I would make excuses as to why I didn’t get to do the heroic thing. It’s probably because the guy that didn’t hesitate got there first. Like I say, the accepted concept of hero is something that I just have trouble with.

I guess I can only deal with the small “h” hero. The guy that goes to work everyday and when he gets home, even when he is too tired to move, will get up and play with his kids. The guy that gets so mad at his family he can’t see straight and doesn’t say or do anything about it. The guy that would love to pick up and leave, but he stays where he is because it is the right thing to do. The guy that always tries to do the right thing, even when it is easier for him to not do the right thing. It is never really clear if this guy or that guy is a hero until he is a hero.

I suppose that we are surrounded by heroes and just aren’t aware they are lurking around every corner. You know, just like in the movie, I think the guy that is my hero would be my dad. He passed about fifteen years and ago and I think of him daily, wondering if there is a chance that I might someday be the hero he was.

Artie set the bar pretty high.

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