Several times during one’s life, one has to write an essay about one’s heroes. I have had strong influence on the heroes my children have chosen to write about. I have not exactly bribed them, but I have made it clear that my pride in them will be so much more if they chose to write about Gandhi rather than about Justin Bieber, or about Mother Teresa rather than Miley Cyrus. I like to believe my girls have decided on their own that some of the greatest heroes in history are not the ones who have made a name for themselves because they look or sing good.
But yesterday my youngest, Kristin, caught me by surprise. Her essay about Cristiano Ronaldo, also known as CR7, was half-way done by the time I saw it. She was not going to change hero. She had no desire whatsoever to write about Martin Luther King jr. or about Gladys Aylward. She wants to spend her life playing soccer, so who is better to look up to than CR7. He is the best. He is cute. He is rich. He has it made.
I told Kristin to try to think of somethings about CR7’s character that made her admire him other than his soccer skills and cute face. And she found plenty. He gives lots of money to the poor. He went to Banda Ache to help after the tsunami in 2004. I felt like there was hope. She had chosen a hero who not only plays soccer well, but who cares about others. At least a little, it appears.
Her essay/powerpoint turned out well. She was proud and I was too.
But today I have thought, again, about the heroes our society promote. No wonder our kids chose the rich and the famous when we, the adults, make it look like they are the ones to admire.
Naomi, daughter #2 overheard a mom the other day forbid her daughter to walk into a store selling cheap clothes. “We don’t want to be seen in there,” she snared. Another mother admonished her toddler when the toddler wanted a pair of brightly colored pants: “Honey, this is not the color that is in-style this season.”
It surprises me that these kind of people, saying these kinds of things actually exist in real life. And it blesses me that I at least have raised my kids to recognize those kinds of values for the total bullshit it actually is. It gives me hope for my kids. It also gives me hope for mankind.
I want to believe that deep down inside most of us know that the real heroes of our world are the ones who spend time with refugees, who help the poor, who care for orphans, who spend time with the unlovelies, who live simply, who share what they have, who are not afraid to be seen with the “wrong” people, who sees each person as valuable in the sight of God, who recognizes that each person is created in the image of God and has the same value as I do.
I have this much hope in our race. I hope you do too.