This I Believe

Marilyn - Park Falls, Wisconsin
Entered on May 11, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

When I look around the world today, with all its excesses, there is one thing we are sadly lacking. Most of us have enough material wealth, free time (if we choose it), conveniences, entertainment, gadgets and other distractions. We find plenty of opportunities to complain about our stress, our disappointments, and injustices we feel have been done to us. We have access to so much that is good and bad for us. What I believe we lack is heroism.

I think the country needs heroes more today than ever before. Not necessarily the kind of hero that saves lives. Look at all the fire fighters, policemen and women, and regular folks who died saving others during 911. Or the brave people who tried to overtake the terrorists on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. How about the people who have taken the bullets intended for others in the school shootings? Thank God we have had those heroes. But it’s hard to be that brave, and we fortunately don’t have many situations which call for that kind of courage. The kind of hero I’m thinking of has many opportunities to make the world a better place.

I believe we need the kind of hero who does the honorable thing. The person who knows that there is right and wrong, and who may not always do the right thing, but does when it counts. I believe that there are many influences today that urge us to do just the opposite. Thieves, on the street, in corporate offices and at every level of government, get off unpunished, that is, if they’re even caught. In movies and television, rap lyrics, and now even radio, violence, sexism, racism, and other forms of intolerance or disrespect are actually celebrated. Are children growing up even knowing what honor is? Have adults forgotten? I believe the answer is yes, and it’s because our heroes are no longer those who act honorably.

One of my heroes is my mother. At 84 she is living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a badly-healed fractured hip. She served in WWII as a nurse (where she contracted tuberculosis); raised me and my three siblings as a single mother while working as a nurse, and has always served as proof to us that a woman can succeed on her own. After divorcing my abusive father when we were very young, my mom didn’t even date until we were adults. Eventually she married a kind and giving man who has since passed away. Although most of her family and many of her friends are also gone now, she is involved in our lives and still active in her church. She is generous with her grandchildren, helps put them through college, has supported us and continues to support us, even now. She’s tough, kind, brave, and honorable. She’s a heroine, the kind of which I believe we need more.