Tuesday, December 08, 2009


The dictionary defines hero as:

a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal: He was a local hero when he saved the drowning child.
3. the principal male character in a story, play, film, etc.
4. Classical Mythology

a. a being of godlike prowess and beneficence who often came to be honored as a divinity.
b. (in the Homeric period) a warrior-chieftain of special strength, courage, or ability.
c. (in later antiquity) an immortal being; demigod.

In our lifetime we come across many types of heroes. Some are heroes that put their life on the line everyday to protect us. Police officers, fire men, men and women in the military; all are heroes the are willing to risk their lives for others. For some of us we are lucky enough to have our parents be our heroes. Now when I was younger I would never have admitted such a thing, but as we get older we see things in a different light. More than anyone else I would consider my Mom and Dad my greatest heroes, helping me see what right and wrong is and shaping my life more than any other person.

Still as we grow up we find heroes in other places. Some find them in sports. Growing up I was never the kid that was that enamoured of the baseball player or the football player. My Dad and brother were both sports fanatics, watching the games and rooting on their teams, but I never had a team or a player. I just never got into it, never looked at the players and wanted to be them.

Instead I found my heroes in other spots. One of my first was in the pages of comic books. I didn't learn right or wrong from comics, but reading the four color adventures of the Marvel Comic heroes helped me to see how such concepts operated in the "real" world. The man putting the words in the character's mouths was Stan Lee. These heroes were not dark, they were not going to kill or maim another. They would give up their own life before they allowed harm to come to another. For a kid this was powerful stuff.

Two other men that helped me see things in a different light were also writers. Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison were two writers that were more than just writers to me. Between their stories and their words inbetween the stories I saw life in more than just black and white, but that even with shades of grey you could still do what was right and maintain your ethical compass. From these writers I formed the desire to be a writer myself. I really don't remember wanting to be anything else but a writer since I first started reading their books.

And than there is one final man that I consider a personal hero. Twenty nine years ago today he was murdered in New York City. Of course that man was John Lennon. From his music to his life I am in admiration. Was he perfect? No, of course not. None of these men were or are, they just tried to live as best as they could and they tried to live their life as they thought it should be. John was more than just his music, he tried to save the world. He was willing to be thought of as a fool if he thought it might do some good. And of course there is the music. No matter how I'm feeling if I hear a Beatle song my heart skips a little and even if I'm depressed or upset I'm going to feel somewhat better. Even today their music matters and is listened to. For the last decade, the decade of 2000-2010 the Beatles had the number one album in sales. This is thirty to forty years after they stopped recording, their music is still selling. In this decade they sold over thirty million albums.

There's a saying that you should never meet your heroes because they'll only let you down. And that might be true. Heroes are only human after all and no one is perfect. But I think we need our heroes, we all have our own, for each of us our heroes may seem strange to another, but for us they touched us or moved us or made us want to strive to be a better person and that should be enough.

John Lennon lived only forty years, I've lived longer than he did, as strange as that seems to me. But in those four decades he lived as well as he could, sometimes not always the hero, but trying to live his life as well as he could, and creating some of the greatest music ever. Can we ask for more?

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