To acknowledge today’s heroes, and to do so publicly, is certainly important, both to honor them and also to inspire us to look at our own opportunities to stand strong in difficult trials. Earlier this year, the Monitor reported that the US State Department had presented 13 women from around the world with the International Women of Courage Award. They were honored for “their demonstrated courage and leadership in the face of adversity” (see “ ‘True heroes’: Melania Trump honors 13 women of courage,” CSMonitor.com, March 29).
Heroes often are nearer to us than we realize. It wasn’t until later in life that I found out my grandfather is considered a hero. In the 1940s, soldiers came to his home, captured him, and sent him to a camp, because he had been helping Jewish families escape Nazi Germany. He worked in that camp as a laborer, digging wide trenches designed to keep Russian tanks from entering the country. About two years later, surprisingly, he was released and returned to his family; he then worked as a lawyer.
When I was in the ninth grade, I asked about the details of my grandfather’s life; nothing was said about what he did for those Jewish families, or of his time as a prisoner. It was many years later, when the movie “Schindler’s List” came out, that my mother told me of his incredible heroism.
Today, in his hometown, a museum and a square are named after my grandfather. While he is now acknowledged as a hero, his story has made me think about how, throughout history, there have been so many unacknowledged heroes. It has made me ask, “What makes a hero?”
Bravery and courage are certainly identified with heroes. Selfless love, too. But how is it that individuals find these qualities?
Many heroes say that their strength and fortitude come from a higher source than themselves, from divine Spirit, or God. In the Bible, man – both male and female – is described as being made in this creator’s image. This means that man reflects Spirit, and that every individual expresses all the power, strength, bravery, love, and willingness needed for selfless heroism.
Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). This kingdom – the spiritual consciousness where God, good, governs – brings out our true nature.
“Every luminary in the constellation of human greatness, like the stars, comes out in the darkness to shine with the reflected light of God,” writes Christian Science Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy (“Miscellaneous Writings, 1883-1896,” p. 340).
“To shine with the reflected light of God” is both humbling and empowering. Goodness, courage, and strength are sourced in God. In our reflection of Him, we each have the power to face whatever challenges come our way in life.
Never underestimate your individual role as the brilliant reflection of God. In your own individual way, you are a luminary, and can be a hero.