The world seems to have a fascination with heroes, super humans with amazing abilities (and great outfits) who fly/run/teleport in and save the day. Marvel and DC are huge corporations releasing movies that people can't wait to see, action figures that kids (and, sadly, adults) have to have, and costumes to dress up in and imitate our favourite characters.
This year’s “Wonder Woman” was the highest grossing superhero origin film of all time, $821.749 million made worldwide. Obviously, a lot of people (including me) wanted to see Diana Prince realise her powers and kick some butt.
There is something deeply satisfying about seeing someone recognise that they have the ability to change the world, and making it happen. I get goosebumps when Batman appears back on the scene to fight Bane just as it seems all is lost, when Iron Man sacrifices himself to take the tesseract into outer space and away from planet earth (more specifically, New York, which is always copping it in these types of movies), or when Wolverine races to his death to save his daughter and her friends.
Of course, in all these movies, the super heroes are fighting super villains, other people with extraordinary powers who are using their abilities for evil, not good. I can only speak for myself, but I know I don't get goosebumps when evil seems to be triumphing, it's the fight against it that draws me in. Therefore, it seems it's not the “super” we are drawn to, but the “hero”.
We need to know that people exist who will fight for what's right, who are willing to sacrifice everything, to protect who and what they love. Ethics scholar Dr Scott LaBarge says:
“We need heroes first and foremost because our heroes help define the limits of our aspirations. We largely define our ideals by the heroes we choose, and our ideals -- things like courage, honor, and justice -- largely define us. Our heroes are symbols for us of all the qualities we would like to possess and all the ambitions we would like to satisfy.”
It is so important that we both have people we can look up to, and that we are the kind of people others can look up to. This isn't about hero worship, this is about recognising our abilities, our 'powers', and doing what we can to change our world, no matter how small that may seem.
The apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, said to follow his example, as he followed Christ's (1 Corinthians chapter 11 verse 1). It takes a lot of guts to be able to say to a whole group of people: act how I act, speak how I speak.
Paul could confidently say this because he looked up to the ultimate hero, Jesus Christ. His aspirations were things like, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and ultimately bringing life to everyone around him. Sounds pretty heroic to me. By telling the Corinthians to follow his example, Paul gave them a living, breathing model to look up to. He wasn't being arrogant, he just trusted in the example of Jesus.
Likewise, while I look ultimately to Jesus, I need to fill my life with people who I can watch and hear, who I can speak to, so I can follow their example. Everyday heroes, making their world a better place.
The quote above states that our ideals and aspirations are based largely on such people, so it's important that we choose our heroes well. As cliché as it may be, my mum and dad have always been my heroes. Two people who show me everyday what it means to love unconditionally, give generously, to look out for the littlest and the least. My marriage benefits every day from the example my parents show, and I pray that I am half as compassionate, understanding, and loving toward my daughter, Lucy, as my mum is toward me. I want to be able to tell Lucy to follow my example, as I follow Jesus'.
Even as I write this article, I know it bears a striking resemblance to a sermon from our youth pastor many years ago, Steve, another hero for me to look up to. Who we are, what we do, and what we say matters even years on, and we may never even know how that may impact our world.
We can be heroes
If you're anything like me, you read the title of this article and instantly heard David Bowie singing in your head (if you thought of the Chris Lilley show, I'm sorry, I don't have an analogy for that right now). If you did, it's quite apt, as that song led to the German government thanking Bowie posthumously for his part in bringing down the Berlin wall. Bowie wrote that song about lovers from either side of the wall, and performed it in West Berlin in 1987, and was being admired and applauded for it years later, in 2016, even after his death.
This world needs heroes. Not super heroes in lycra, with capes and fancy gadgets, but people who are courageous, self-sacrificing, compassionate, gracious, and genuine. Regular people, who can be heroes.
Jess is a wife and mum who loves God and loves people. She loves a good super hero movie, but loves spending quality time with her real life heroes even more.
Jess Curie's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jessica-curie.html
Jess is married to Colin and they have a young daughter who is teaching them more than they are teaching her. Jess is also a recent college graduate who has no idea what she will do with her ministry degree, but is passionate about following Jesus wherever he may lead.
Jessica Currie’s previous articles may be viewed at: http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jessica-currie.html