The Time Travelling HeroPosted: November 19, 2012
A few weeks ago I met the most powerful hero you will ever imagine.
A twenty year old man is hooked on drugs, breaking into houses to take electronics. He smashes car windows to steal phones and iPods to sell for cash. Many families suffer for his addiction. He will enter detox fifteen times and never fully recover. Heroin will eventually take his life, but not before he harms hundreds of people on his path to destruction.
An HIV-positive woman sells herself on a busy street corner, infecting dozens of young men who will eventually die. They will all become sick to serve her desperate need for drug money.
A forty year old man stumbles around a dirty, one-bedroom apartment. He screams at his two young children and slaps his wife when she says he is upsetting them. The children cower, but they learn that brute force dominates the home and they will employ it themselves when they are older.
Now picture a mild-mannered eighty-three year old woman who takes away these problems as if with the wave of a magic wand. All is put back in order. The man and the woman lead fulfilled lives and never turn to drugs. Instead they hold down jobs, support families, go to soccer games.
The older man loves his wife dearly. He works hard at his job and he’s good at it. His children receive valuable counsel and occasional discipline when it is warranted.
The old woman takes away these problems too quickly for us to see.
It happens over years and seemingly all at once.
We never know it happened, but the impact is great, multi-generational, and real. She does this because she can see the future and she chooses to make it better.
A few weeks ago I met an eighty-three year old woman who was raising two teenage boys and helping to raise two young children. She has made an enormous impact for our world and it’s a contribution that goes mostly unnoticed and unrewarded. These young men are forever changed. Every interaction they have will be softer, kinder, more helpful, because of the love they received from their grandmother.
Last week I talked with Jim Stevens from GiftsToGive and he told me her story is common. Hundreds of grandmothers are doing this same work all over the city. What these old women are doing isn’t sexy or exciting. It isn’t gossip worthy, but if we could see the two futures side by side—one with their help and one without—we would gawk in awe of their heroic deeds.
And gawk we should!
Here is another superhero.
Her name was Doris West and she helped to save 56 babies from a fate like the one above. Consider how many lives would have been different if these children had been raised in abusive homes. How many people might they have hurt? How would their children have grown and what might they have done?
Mrs. West helped as many people as Superman, flying at breakneck speed from crisis to crisis. But she did more than that. She healed the lives of the criminals themselves. She changed them into happy, fulfilled people. And she did it with a spoon, an apron, and a Wiffle ball.
Today we are a world divided. Politicians left or right are not superheroes. They cannot and will not solve our world’s problems. They merely argue ideology with a microphone and a camera. But they only set the rules. We can’t sit back and hope they will fix things for us. It is up to us to act. We can do more with loving attention and a spoon than they can accomplish with all the cameras and money in the world.
Please remember the true heroes this Thanksgiving. You may just be eating with one.