Charles Barkley’s not one, by his own admission. He’s not even in the running for a spot on the role model team. He’s not even worthy to sit on that bench. Would you elect a governor who told you not to let your kids look up to him?
Many former presidents, legislators, and judges fail the heroic litmus test miserably. The current crop of movie stars and media moguls have burned out like a match in the face of hurricane Ike. Yet, today we continue to knight people with the moniker of “hero” based solely on one qualification – their appearance on a plasma screen. All of this while true public servants (police officers, the military, ministers, teachers and the like) are rebuked and reviled by the faux Hollywood heroes.
In bygone eras it just wasn’t so. Those called heroes exuded courage, wisdom, and morality. They did what you prayed they would. They made decisions that you and I only have the fortitude to consider, and that, only at times.
Walter M. Schirra and I share common ground here. Schirra, the only astronaut to fly the space shuttles Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, once said this of heroes. He said that you don’t raise them. Instead, “…you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they’ll turn out to be heroes, even if it’s just in your own eyes.” (As an aside, those of us with more common sense than fear of the sensitivity police know, with certainty, that when Schirra spoke of sons, he included daughters.)
Therefore, in the Schirra school of “hero-ology” the first prerequisite remains – parents must raise their children. We can no longer simply “play an active role” in the raising of our children. We’ve got to actually do the raising.
We can’t rely on the government, the village, the church, or the rectangular box of moving lights that we keep in our living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and now in our SUV’s and minivans. Too many of my generation rose to adulthood with the extent of their home training being done by Cliff and Claire Huxtable of the Cosby family. Sadly enough, many times all the raising this generation gets comes from Hulk Hogan and Ozzy Osbourne, and it’s called reality TV. What a bizzaro world we live in today?!
Last week, in a foreign country, with a foreign language and culture, we took a very small step in raising our daughters, as daughters. We took them to school with only a cursory knowledge of what they are getting into. They understand only a small part of the language, and they verbalize even less.
Two years ago, when we started the journey to come to Portugal and start churches, they had no choice in the matter. When we took them to school and told them to behave and try hard and not to embarrass us – the only Americans this school has ever known; they started trying to do just that. They didn’t rebel, and they never mentioned a child’s favorite four letter word – fair.
They didn’t have a choice in coming, but they do have a choice in responding. You may wonder – what of their response? Well, suffice it to say, in my eyes, they just took a small step on the path to heroism.
Don’t subscribe to this particular path? Perhaps Oprah has a little more room on her couch.
~~~Written by Michael Andrzejewski for The LaGrange Daily News.