Sunday, April 7, 2013

Why Do Heroes Stand Out?

Over the weekend, the Nebraska Cornhuskers moved into what I call the “Hero Club” when they allowed a 7 year old boy, also a member of the Hero Club in my mind as he struggles with brain cancer, to score a touchdown for the Cornhuskers.

The powerful moment is captured here.

As I marvelled at this powerful moment, I realized why such moments grab our hearts, cause our eyes to mist up and inspire us.

I refer to it as shark attack syndrome.

Shark attacks make the news because they are vivid, raw and rare and because of this, we are captivated when news of such an attack splashes across the media.

Moments like the one in this video are similar, grabbing our hearts because:

1. The powerful moment, in its spontaneity, is all the more heart-gripping because it is so vivid in contrast to what we see in day-to-day life.

But they are rare because:

2. Such events don’t happen as often as they should


3. We don’t share awareness of them as much as we should

In a world caught in the crossfire of unlimited potential versus unlimited greed, apathy, indifference and yes, stupidity, I think we need to work harder at either creating more of these moments or work harder at creating awareness of them.

I also think it would be amazing if moments like the one captured above were so common that they were considered to be almost mundane.

Although I suspect such a world would never be considered mundane.

What do you think?

In service and servanthood,



  1. Harry, thank you for sharing this inspiring story AND prompting us to consider its relevance in a world so fascinated by ‘me.’ As I look around the globe, it seems to me we live in a world where people have come to know more about fear than they know about the stuff of heroes: compassion, decency, and tenderness. Yes, you read that right. We have it wrong if we think popularity or power makes heroes; our heroes, our true heroes, rise from the midst of the people because, in simplest terms, they stand among them. Like all the others, heroes seek tenderness, decency, and compassion. Unlike the others, heroes are willing to be tender, decent, and compassionate when they, personally, have little or nothing to gain from it. We are immediately drawn to them.

    If only we could be more like them.

    Paul Rogat Loeb, writing in Soul of a Citizen, helps us see the log in our own eyes: “The walls we’re building around ourselves, around the closest to us, and ultimately around our hearts may provide a temporary feeling of security. But they can’t prevent the world from affecting us.” More importantly, I would suggest those same walls stand in our way, preventing us from positively affecting the world around us. Heroes, it seems to me, bring those walls down.

    Some may ask, ‘why go to all the trouble?’ For me, the answer is simple: heroes bring down those walls for us because we need each other, and we need love, unconditional love — it’s what we crave most. This unconditional love we seek is readily evident in the decent, tender compassion heroes exude; it is manifest in the knowing we hold deep within that what happens to one somehow affects all. To feel the jubilation of a seven-year-old’s touchdown is to score big points in our own lives.

    Deep down, we are saddened to realize unselfish acts of compassion are the exception in our fragile lives rather than the norm. We stand face to face with a heart-starved society. We are so busy trying to become all-stars, movie stars, and rock stars, we forget we live among the stars and that people everywhere are dreaming dreams, each desperate to hitch their wagon to those stars. People need something to believe in, they need their dreams to come true, and they need our help to reach those stars. People need people. Ordinary people willing, if called upon, to do extraordinary things, expecting nothing in return. No fame. No glory. No accolades. No ticker tape parades.

    Humanity has issues, some really big issues, which require our attention. Sadly, we tend to get so busy addressing the symptoms we are completely fail to realize the solutions have been with us all along. Heroes know this. We see it in their constant, quiet empathy, sympathy, and affections. We see it in their love for a stranger. We see it in their service. We see it in their sacrifice.

    Heroes stand out because they are not hiding behind their vulnerabilities. They stand out because they do all they can to help another stand up in a world ready to knock them down. We see them because they create safe spaces where kindness dwells.

  2. A powerful contribution, Jack - thank you for sharing it. I can't even add a build on it - your words are perfect and complete. :-)

    I'm not surprised to hear such words from the passionate man who wrote the powerful book "One With the People: Everything You Need To Be the Leader They Need!"

    Thanks for everything you do for others, Jack - you are a true servant leader. We need more people like you.

    Create a great day.