Defining a Hero

A while back I wrote Defining a Monster (click here for link to post), this is my follow up:

My 5 year-old nephew runs into the room slamming his fists to the ground, pretending as though he were the star of an action packed blockbuster. Our masked vigilante valiantly fighting the evils of the world that’s located inside his vivid imagination with his staggering height and built muscles, which also only exist in his vivid imagination. He’s still at the age where he thinks that finishing off his potatoes will bring instant results to his muscle mass. I remember being little and constantly thinking of stories in my head, I look at him and just think of the wheels that must be turning. The momentary bravery it takes to fight the elusive “bad guy” that he’s created, and then the innocence of the hero that suddenly needs milk with his brownie and pizza.

As we entered the new year, I noticed a lack of excitement that normally accompanies the determination that somehow gets harpooned into our souls when the clock strikes midnight. It was as if we spent all of 2013 sailing closer and closer to Cape Horn, and as we stood on the ship deck counting down the minutes to midnight we contemplated the dangers of the waters soon to be traveled. Instead of the ball dropping in time square, we saw the high winds, the sharp rocks, the daunting icebergs; all of the dangers ahead would surely find us to be inexperienced sailors in well over our head, and they would undoubtedly take advantage at every possible turn. I don’t think it’s a secret, 2014 is not a number known for its coming joys for America.

Since the new year we have faced insurance difficulties, as well as an updated projection from the CBO for what we should expect for future full-time job loss due to the ACA. The expected numbers more than doubled, and the part time epidemic is set to take hold due to insurance regulations.  Additionally, yet another poor job report was released last week that seems to prove the pessimistic economists to be prophets. I’ll definitely be talking about some of those issues in the coming posts, but today I wanted to do something different.

I am not always the most delicate in my deliverance of opinion. I find the truth to be best when it’s laid out bare; admittedly, concerns over the brittleness of eggshells rarely infiltrate my mind. Reason is of the utmost importance to me, to a fault I might add. There’s no denying that God has His hands full with me and my unbridled skepticism, I surely earn my place on the cross daily. Have you ever played 20 questions with a 5 year old? Now imagine your patience level by question 50. Now tack on a couple million questions and you might have a feeling for what God endures from this daughter of His.

Issues & debates are puzzles, puzzles need to be solved. Period. I have to shut that part of me down sometimes, followed by walking away due to the fact that shutting that part down is normally not a process I’m willing to perform twice. My tolerance level for discursiveness is not what one would note as “desirable“, for me it’s like taking the organized puzzle pieces and throwing them on the ground in an attempt to complete the puzzle. It doesn’t make sense. More so, I find that we are far too delicate in matters that call for unabashed truth, and often brash in matters that call for delicacy. It’s the human condition colliding with Christianity that I wrote about in my last post. So while some may charge me with being too critical of the Christian, “my own kind”, I’ve always been more apt to lean on the side of logic and ignore the social norms of Sunday night potluck positivity.

Growing up I loved things that glowed in the dark; stars on a ceiling, secret notes on black paper, etc. (Clearly I was meant to be a spy.) But I always remember those things being so dull when all of the lights were on. You couldn’t see them or admire their contributions to the dark in a fully lit room. We used to run and find a room that had no windows, the darker the better; every step into the darkness made the secret words on black paper easier to read, every bit of sun that disappeared made the stars brighter. Some may accuse me of dwelling on the negative, or obsessing with the world. That’s their opinion. I don’t dwell on the negative, I just care deeply about those swallowed up by the negative. I’m not obsessed with the world, I simply hurt for those in its grasps. And sometimes, I turn off all the lights and look in the darkness for that glimmer of light that refused to buckle in to the black. My admiration for those glimmers of light and how Christ used them outweigh any assumptions of my obsessions with the repugnance of the world in my mind. To be honest, I am filled with hope, overflowing with gratitude for my Savior, and breathlessly amazed at how He moves in this world. As the song goes, I pray that my heart continues to break for what breaks His.

SO, in honor of the approaching sharp rocks, I couldn’t think of anything more fitting than to write about a few men that saw danger and met it with heroic determination. In a world where Iron Man is idolized and Thor is worshiped, sometimes the most heroic of men go unnoticed. Right now I’m content with my nephew’s infatuation with Captain America and his powerful shield that brings down the evil that stalks the world, but someday I hope his adoration and interests are held by men who didn’t need a shield; men with hearts that shook the world more than The Hulk’s mighty fists ever could. The logic that appealed to the natural instinct of self-preservation in these men was trumped by the logic of human worth and hope, which is itself an act that defies the idea of a Godless world and speaks to the greatest form of proof for Him that we can experience daily. That is why sometimes it’s a good thing to acknowledge the dark.

We do not know what a Jew is, we know only men.” – Words spoken by Andre Trocme when asked by the Nazis to produce a list of Jews. Andre lived in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, France during the Holocaust. He, along with his wife, were responsible for helping what is believed to be over 4000 Jewish refugees find homes in his city. He, as the “spiritual leader”, encouraged the townspeople to do the work of God. He continued to tell his followers that when the Nazis came and took him away – for his refusal to provide a list – that they were to continue in the effort to save as many as they could. He woke up every morning to the realization that his life could end, or that he would be imprisoned, and everyday his ethical convictions drove him to continue. Thankfully, he survived the war and passed away in 1971.

Giovanni Palatucci was an Italian Police Official and chief of the Foreigners’ Office. He was put in charge of the Adriatic seaport of Fiume (Croatia). In 1938 the anti-Jewish laws were put into place, and he disobeyed said laws. He forged travel papers for hundreds of Jews so that they could flee persecution. In 1943 the government fell and was occupied by the Nazis. He was ordered to arrest the Jews and have them deported to concentration camps. Simply defying orders would have led to his termination and be of no help to the Jews, so he devised and executed a plan to have over 5000 Jews sent to a refugee camp that was managed by his uncle. He then destroyed records of all the refugees, and they were saved from the imminent doom that would have met them in Nazi concentration camps. He died at the age of 35 after being arrested by the Gestapo and sent to a concentration camp for his actions. He knew what his actions would cost him if exposed, and yet he charged ahead with a bravery that would put us all to shame.

Chiune Sugihara was a Japanese Diplomat. As vice-consul for a Japanese consulate in Lithuania, he kept his country updated on the actions of both the Nazis, and the Soviet troops. Once the Nazi invasion of Lithuania began, the Jews were scrambling for ways to escape the Nazis that were rounding them up like cattle. It is unknown how many Jews Chiune saved, some speculate that it was 5000, others believe a more accurate number to be 10,000. He was issuing visas to anyone that came to him, writing them for 18 hours a day, violating direct orders in the name of human compassion. Even while he was en route to the train station after being reassigned, he was handwriting visas and throwing them out the car window for desperate Jews. Many of the passports in the crowd were still unstamped when he boarded the train, so he threw his official stamp into the crowd for them to use. Hence why the number of Jews he saved is impossible to even try to calculate.

“I cannot allow these people to die, people who have come to me for help with death staring them in the eyes. Whatever punishment may be imposed on me, I know I should follow my conscience.” – Chiune Sugihara

Chiune Sugihara was finally recognized in 1985 for his heroic rescue of so many Jews. He passed away in 1986.

Does it not concern anyone else that these men disobeyed direct orders, put their lives on the line, one actually losing his life, and yet we don’t speak out about issues because we don’t want to be “divisive” with our dinner party friends? Does that not get to anyone else? Slavery, persecution, etc. are taking place all over the world, and who we vote for decides if we’re going to continue financially supporting those acts. You don’t even have to hide persecuted individuals in your home and disobey the laws of your country, you just have to say the truth! You just have to speak! Educate! Stand up for what is right!

In the next year many families will face financial turmoil. They’ll take on an insurance payment that is equal to, or possibly exceeds, the cost of a mortgage payment. They’ll cut, scrimp, and will no longer save. Is being low on money the worst thing to happen to a person? FAR from it. But this is just the beginning. Families will not be able to afford their deductibles, people will go without healthcare. Healthcare will continue to decline as it becomes less care and more of a conveyor belt health service. People will become numbers, elderly will be declined the care they desperately need. Businesses will start preparing for the ACA, jobs will be cut, unemployment compensation will be insufficient. Families will lose their homes or get creative in their living situations. These are just the facts that we have to step back and recognize them for what they are.

How many of us have heard (or said), “God is in control, I’m not going to concern myself with worldly issues.”?? I know I have heard it PLENTY of times.

The problem: The bible is full of action against evil.

God is in control, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a responsibility to be a voice for the voiceless. As I said earlier about my need for rationality, I look at the world and ponder the theory that silence from Christians is what’s needed, but I find that ideal lacking in any evidence that would substantiate its viability. I’m not asking you to spend this year hiding Jewish refugees in your walls, I’m just asking you to have conversations, to try and educate those around you. Speak the truth. If you don’t know what to speak of, then research the issues plaguing this nation, connect with those who know about those issues and ask questions so that YOU can spread the word. What our government is doing to healthcare has happened elsewhere. What our government is doing to guns has happened elsewhere. What our government is doing with police power has happened elsewhere.

All of those attempts to “reduce crime”, “increase affordable healthcare”, and “make the streets safer” don’t work. In all actuality, those supposed “efforts” make things far more dangerous, careless, and elitist. If you pointed to a wolf and said “that’s a sheep, trust me!”, I still wouldn’t approach the “sheep” because common sense says that it will kill me. Pointing to the ACA and saying that it’s affordable healthcare doesn’t make it affordable, nor does it guarantee that my family will receive healthcare; as a matter of fact, it does the opposite for many hard working families.

Prepare yourself for the midterm elections, learn about your candidates. Don’t just research their opinion on one topic that will benefit your wallet, research what they stand for and how it will affect the rest of the world. The powerful governments “elsewhere” were strengthened by a populous that only cared about themselves, let’s not be that populous. I’m going to make a good number of blog posts about some of the candidates. If you live in a state and would like specific information on candidates, please message us.

Take a moment to thank God for men like Trocme, Palatucci, and Sugihara. Our world can be a dim place, it can be filled with overwhelming hatred and a callousness that makes us weep for the innocent lives that become trapped within its grip for reasons unanswered. But there are heroes that forge through the darkness regardless of what lies wait in the shadows, those men exist in our world today as well. Would you have the fortitude to be one of them?

Enemy-occupied territory – that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign in sabotage.” – C.S. Lewis

–  MB

Hero

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