Looking over a dog-eared, parchment-like copy of When Dreams & Heroes Die: a portrait of today’s college student, (by Arthur Levine, 1980), I was taken back to a quite different time in our history. It wasn’t so much the time difference, or the cultural/time-distance warp, as it was the way Levine analyzed the characteristics of that period’s college culture. Boomers, busters, Gen-X, Gen-Y, yada, yada, yada. ALL of us have experienced the sadness of childhood disappointment of “heroes” who have disappointed us, let us down, deceived us, or who lost our trust through betrayed belief.
Heroes become real human beings with real failures, real flaws; some dissolve into the fantasies of their foundation, real illusions with no connection to real life; comic book/computer game avatars which have no association with the reality of actual beings. Yet, to be sure, there are real heroes: and most of us hold onto dreams that we truly want to become realities. Dreams are good, in fact, great! NOT to dream is to resign oneself to the humdrum of a dreary life, to personal anonymity and an interior death. It is to become a non-person, a mere cog-in-the-wheel, grinding out a life’s work as an automaton.
It is a reality of life—heroes do die, let us down, disappoint us: dreams also die; we settle for 2nd best, 3rd best, etc. Some of us give up our dreams altogether. And we have lost all (or most) of our heroes to time, fantasy, or failure. We have arrived at the blank wall of the convoluted definition, without role-models to provide us with points-of-reference or moral character.
Allow me to offer an alternative scenario. Could our loss of dreams and heroes actually be a trigger for us to rise to the occasion? Is it time for you to become the hero? To become the role-model for those who already look to you as someone they would seek to emulate? Is it time for you to help people dream their dreams? Fulfill their dreams?
Instead of hanging onto your fantasy-heroes of the past, your dreams for significance, maybe it’s time you became the hero for so many others, or even one other. Actually, maybe you already are significant; not in your eyes, but in the eyes of this generation’s emerging leaders.
So review what you’ve accomplished in your life. Is it enough? What more is there that you must do to make a difference for God and for humanity? BUT…, but— Who will be your protégée; what legacy will you leave in the people in whom you’ve invested? What’s your plan? Don’t have one? Why not? WHO are the people God has given to you to nurture to greatness? HOW do you care for them, train them, feed their souls?
BE the hero: make the dreams work! So help you God if you shy away from this great responsibility, this great honor.
Have a nice week.