“There are no ‘heroes’,” an old theology prof used to say.
I disagree. There are no superheroes, yes, despite what Nietsche might claim- but heroes? They’re around.
Some friends and I were discussing the movie, The Hobbit. One friend said he doesn’t go for flicks in which the hero is small. Heroes in his book need to be tall and dashing, and my friend is right about something: Bilbo Baggins doesn’t fit the bill. He’s very small, kind of homely, is risk-adverse, indecisive and unsure about his gifts. He prefers the safety of his home to the unknown perils of the open road.
Maybe this describes many of us. If we’re not physically small, we feel small. We’ve become accustomed to our bourgeois comforts with an unruffled complacence that makes us believe we’re not capable of anything heroic. We think heroism is the stuff of “bigger” people with grand ambitions born into power and privilege.
But I’m convinced God chooses small people to do truly heroic things. God chooses a guy with a speech impediment and a criminal record to free the people of Israel from years of bondage. God picks a kid with a stone to slay Goliath. God makes a poor, unwed teenaged girl the mother of Jesus.
God uses small people “to do little things with great love,” as Mother Teresa once put it.
Heroism isn’t dead. So long as there are human beings with stories to be lived, personal battles to be fought, struggles to be overcome, and foes to conquer, heroes, in all their inspired ordinariness, will continue to ennoble us and make this world a little better.
Who are your heros? Send along your comments, and I’ll republish them (with your permission).