If you talk to me for an extended period of time, you’ll soon realize I’m not a renaissance man. I’m not an expert on many things. In fact, if you really press me, I will probably contradict myself and eventually out myself as merely a man that fakes his way through many a conversation – especially on films….
But you will find out that there are a few things I know – my kids, the Beatles, Monty Python, Arrested Development, Elbow albums, and finally World War 2. Here’s a fun game where you play – which one of these is not like the other. I’ve been extremely fascinated by the 1940s and everything it entails for as long as I can remember. My father has a complete fascination with it as well, and he did a fantastic job of passing that along to me. I make no bones about it – I’m a complete nerd about WW2. I can talk it for hours, I very rarely go a day or two without thinking about it, and frankly I’m consumed. Now before you think – oh geez, here comes a history lesson, I’ll spare you. (Despite the fact that some of you need it, including the other person that writes on this blog)
I bring this up because this week I read that J.B. Stokes passed away on February 24th. You’re probably thinking…who? J.B. Stokes was a member of Easy Company 506th PIR – part of the 101st Airborne. This may or may not mean anything to you there, but the term “Band of Brothers” may – this was J.B’s unit. J.B. spent most of his life in Azle and I regret that I never met him. I very seriously debated whether to drive out Wednesday night to his visitation just to pay respect.
You see, we all have heroes – we all have people we place on a pedestal and for me the WW2 veteran is in my ring of honor. As I reflected on J.B, I started thinking – why do we have heroes? Why do we put people on pedestals? Why are we so quick to crown heroes? These are all questions that really made me think.
Growing up we all look up to someone right? Whether it’s a parent, athlete, musician, etc, we all put someone above us and say “this is my hero.” Why? I’m not entirely sure. I mean even as Jesus showed up years ago, so many were ready to crown him King. Now I’m pulling a bit here, as there were greater political implications and oppression which lead to the desire to crown Jesus, but it’s essentially the same at the base right?
Someone comes along, we view them as a better version of human, or ourselves, or something and we immediately decide that this is someone to be praised, someone that others should strive for. It can be anyone too. Just watch the news tonight and see if someone isn’t deemed a hero for something that we view as a noble thing. It really is fascinating that we want to put people on pedestals. We want to believe that someone out there is a better version of us. All superheroes are built on this, no one wants an average superhero – look it’s The Grocer! The middle class, seven year old Saturn Vue driving, father of three just trying to make his way as a small town grocer in rural America! That comic would sell maybe three copies. No. We want our superheroes to have magic powers, or superhuman strength or lord knows what else. We don’t want them to be like us….because maybe we dislike ourselves?
Is that dark? I have no idea, I’m spitballing here (brainstorming, there’s nothing wrong during brainstorming). Do we need heroes because we need to determine what the “ideal” human is so that we then have a target to shoot for? I think in many cases the answer to this is yes. The issue with that is when you choose the wrong target. There are many noble men and women that we all would do well to set after, but there are also so many non-noble men and women that it’s best history forgets.
I pitched to Kevin that maybe we need heroes to fill God-shaped holes, but I’m not sure that’s right either as there are countless believers with heroes. Is it that we need heroes because society says we do? Is it because that’s just how it is? I’d love other thoughts on this.
So here I am 750 words in and rambling. I love a good open ended question that can be answered so many ways. So what say you? Why heroes?
(On a side note, thank you to J.B. Stokes and all the men and women of the Greatest Generation. You are quickly fading into history, but you will not be forgotten, at least not in my house where the candle of your valor will continue to burn bright as I pass along stories to my children. God bless you and keep you. If you want more information on J.B. Stokes go here)