Counting Heroes

My friend Jerry counts heroes. It is his antidote to the daily barrage of negative news that come via our multiple forms of media. Under the premise ‘if it bleeds it leads’, those in the business of reporting the news often focus on stories that are violent and heartbreaking.

Such stories need to be told. But there are other stories too. Without a balance of stories that inspire, it can be difficult to get out of bed in the morning or have any semblance of hope.

In response to the challenges of daily living and the tendency of the media to highlight the negative, Jerry has taken to counting heroes. On a regular basis Jerry looks for stories that inspire and grace his life with meaning.

My friend points out that such stories are all around us, all we need to do is keep our eyes and ears open. Each story holds lessons and values that we can incorporate into our own life. Such stories inspire and empower us to live more fully in the present, to be optimistic and persistent in living out that which we value.

In the Sunday New York Times (January 15, 2015) I read an obituary for Robert E. White who was a career diplomat who served in every administration from Eisenhower – Reagan. He was a man who stood up for his principles, which reflected the values of the American people – a belief in democracy and human rights.

Photo of Robert E. White

Looking back on his career, Robert White wrote in 2001: “I was fired by the Nixon White House for opposing politicization of the Peace Corps, reprimanded by Henry Kissinger for speaking out on human rights, and finally dismissed from the diplomatic corps by Alexander Haig on behalf of President Reagan, for opposing a military solution in El Salvador in the 1970’s and 80’s.” He lived with the satisfaction of having stayed true to his core values.

Such heroes are all around us: People like Robert E. White. Teachers who go the extra mile every day for their students. Parents who sacrifice for the well-being of their children. The list of every day heroes is endless.

Yes, there’s lots of bad news and heartache in the world. Lots to keep us awake at night with worry. Yet, there are also heroes, well-known and little known, who remind us what a well lived life looks like, who remind us to hold onto hope even as we face the challenges of life.

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