Just as there are angels among us, I am certain that there are heroes among us. Unlike those we see in comic books or movies, they aren’t donning a cape and symbol on their chest. A recent visit to Orlando taught me much about heroism and the unparalleled beauty witnessed when the community rises to the occasion and collective heroism is on display.
“You’re the real hero…” is what the manager of a local Starbucks said to me after she had returned from jetting out of her store to run after the vehicle which contained a young man who’d just exited her store and snatched the purse from one of her customers. At the time I happened to be working outside from that location and looked up as the young man grabbed the purse, jumped over the railing, and hopped into an SUV. I kept an eye on the vehicle and shouted so the manager could write down the correct tag number. The cops came and traced the tag and found that the vehicle was stolen. I do not know if her purse was recovered. I do know she attributed my “following the vehicle” as a major heroic act. I tend to disagree with her perspective; I am no hero.
That day I witnessed so many people who did not know one another come to the aid of a woman who had just been violated. No questions asked; no judgement. Everyone wanted justice for her. Collective heroism. We need it.
Heroic is the lady who ran after the purse snatcher. She was an unlikely hero.
Spending time with my nieces and nephews this past week gave me a sneak peak into what life can be like when your father is your first hero. Time and time again, whether it was to share a new skill learned, a silly joke, or simply receive comfort after a fall, the arms of daddy provided the greatest comfort. Daddy was ALWAYS the hero. Living with a belief that there is nothing your father won’t do to protect you and there is nothing that he couldn’t do is absolutely incredible. It is a sacred gift to a child or the vulnerable. I’ve not personally experienced the heroism of my father, but I have experienced the collective heroism of family. The extraordinary lengths my family goes through to care for one another is nothing short of amazing. In this family, my heroes are rich in love. Much sacrifice; many needs met. Collective heroism. We need it.
Heroic is the single father who rises early to provide for his family while actively fighting off (as any hero would) the traps of poverty which attempt to lure him into a lifestyle which promises quick money coupled with high risk.
The last leg of my time in Orlando, I learned that the police officers involved in the death of #TamirRice were not indicted. I’m so exhausted by this story line. It’s ending seems to be stuck in a ridiculous loop in which our “justice” system justifies a way to remove culpability and place the victim on trial. I would have lost hope, but in the spirit of collective heroism, I know that I am not in this fight alone. Besides, heroes don’t give up! I stand shoulder to shoulder with those I count as heroes who refuse to sit idly and allow those advancing oppressive systems to continue to do so. I shudder to think about the arguments used to support the idea that police officers did not have to answer for shooting a 12 year old boy in less than 1 second (which was caught on video). However, I find strength when I think of those who earnestly count the cost and find it worth it to stand for justice…and keep standing for justice.
So, I’d like to end this last blog of the year by reminding us that collective heroism is about community. My time in Orlando reminded me that we are stronger together. If there was ever a time our community needs to come together, it is now. Displays of solidarity such as those seen during the #notonedime2015 economic boycott launched by Rahiel Tesfamariam during the Black Friday weekend and the decision of some University of Missouri Football players to proclaim the racial injustice they witnessed rather than play the game breathe life into the souls of the heroic at heart.
Heroic is the community who refuses to be silent in the face of injustice. We need you.
To those in my community, I ask that you stand with me and be image bearers of collective heroism. Not because we have an “S” on our chest, but because we possess an unrelenting desire for justice. Gone are the days of our silence. Our collective voices are stronger. Our collective lament creates a depth of resolve which is mountainous in structure. And one day our collective victory will be glorious.
A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. – Christopher Reeves
Most heroes are unlikely heroes. I hope 2016 produces many more unlikely heroes. We need them.
“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” – Romans 15:1-2 [ESV]