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How Do You Pick Your Heros?

My wife has a favorite trading concept that she often shares with people who are critical of school teachers.  She believes that many of our problems with education would be solved if every mother and father were required to be teachers for a month BEFORE they have children.  It is the very same concept that is capsulized in the challenge to "...walk a mile in my shoes..." before jumping to the conclusions of how easy or hard the walk might be.  Children often play around by stepping into their father's shoes and comparing their feet to their father.  Teachers are counted in this corner as members of the HERO class.

In our society it seems like the people who are admired and have become the heroes are often people who possess great looks, wealth, or power.  It would be interesting to take a poll of Americans and ask them what their dream world would look like if they could walk in someone else's shoes.  It would likely include many who would choose to have so much money they wouldn't have to work, and could shop, travel, and play at any and all things.  In my career as a financial advisor, I observed this latter phenominon where people inherited huge sums of money or won the lottery and had this "dream" world in their hands. 

Years later, I can also confirm that  few people handled those situations well, but most ended up with more frustrations and broken relationships than those who found happiness.  Others dream of power or position of influence so that the world always wants to know what you think.  False dreams can be worse than no dreams at all and when we place our sights on the false promises of this world, we will always be disappointed. 

This week, as I have read and re-considered the life of the Reverend Jerry Falwell, it brings to mind a man who did not follow after false dreams and riches.  If you are like me, he would make statements that I did not always agree with and often he would be criticized in the mass media.  But one thing he never did was shy away from controversy and from dealing with the difficult questions that Christians must wrestle with in their walk of faith.  Some of his answers even made me cringe as his conclusions about issues differed from mine. 

His willingness to bring issues of faith openly to the public square and back his beliefs with actions toward both the poor and needy in his community set him apart.  His legacy brought schools and colleges into being that could also wrestle with the issues of faith and society.  He was a giant of a man and I don't think many people could fit into the shoes who wore.  He defended our faith in the light of public scrutiny and criticism and more often than not, he did it well.  He is one of my heroes.  I trust that the good things this man accomplished will not be overshadowed by his mistakes. 


Sent May 21, 2007

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