A friend sent me an interesting article (which you can read after the break) with what I think is an important question -- Who are your heroes?
How would you answer that question? Would you pick one of the contestants on American idol? A famous historical figure? A religious leader? Your grandfather?
What makes someone a hero?
I hope you'll discuss this in the comment section. As the author of the article states, "I learn things about a person I might otherwise have missed. Better, I may get a view into the best side of that person: the side that is aspiring, morally, upward."
So what do you look for in a hero? And who are your heroes this Lent?
COMMENTARY March 9, 2011 Beacon
One of the untruths, or more politely, one of the curious myths about our age, is that there are no heroes. This is a conclusion I have reached through my own curious habit of asking people, sometimes, "Who are your heroes?" I think it is a good question. When I get confident answers, I learn things about a person I might otherwise have missed. Better, I may get a view into the best side of that person: the side that is aspiring, morally, upward.
But not always. The answers are sometimes droll, sometimes sarcastic. Sometimes the question is misunderstood, and I'm given the names of pop stars, who would more accurately be called "idols." Most often, however, the question simply stumps people.
More deeply, or at least, below a shallow surface, I have encountered the notion that "there are no heroes"; that the very possibility of heroes is "a thing of the past." Since the trend in modern biography has long been away from hagiography, one might easily form the impression that there were never any heroes, only idols; that all had clay feet.
Yet our ancestors, who had heroes, knew that men and women all have clay feet. This is an article of the Christian religion, that "no one is perfect," not even the calendared saints; that perfection is of God, and humanly exemplified in Christ. That from our sins, He must save us. To this traditional view, which once animated most of Canadian society, the interesting thing is not that men fall. It is that some rise.
I was caught in my own net the other day, asked to name my greatest living Canadian hero. Fortunately I was prepared for the question, and could answer immediately: Linda Gibbons.
For those who have never heard of her -- her story is seldom mentioned in our media -- Linda is Canada's longest serving political prisoner. She will soon surpass, cumulatively, the time spent in prison by Karla Homolka -- who knowingly led three girls, including her own sister, to rapes, tortures, and murders in which she participated. Homolka, as everyone probably knows, plea-bargained her way to a modest sentence and was released more than five years ago. According to one press report (in La Presse) she was back in Ontario and studying law. Other reports placed her in the Caribbean with a new husband and child.
Linda Gibbons, by contrast, has no prospect of release. She is a grandmother, age 62. Her crime was praying, publicly, inside the 60-foot "bubble" around a Morgentaler abortion clinic in Toronto. She also, on occasion, held up a placard reading, "Why, Mom, when I have so much love to give?" She first did this in defiance of a temporary court injunction obtained by the Ontario attorney general back in 1994 and has returned to doing it, and been re-arrested, each time she has been released.
The legal complexities, by which a temporary civil manoeuvre by an NDP government to deny free speech and association, was perpetuated; and an infraction against it was graduated into a criminal offence; is much too complicated to review in the space of a column. The case goes before the Canadian Supreme Court in the autumn, and the justices will try to sort out how this happened, and what if anything they will do about it.
Another contrast is instructive. While Linda Gibbons was languishing in jail, Henry Morgentaler, the abortionist, received the Order of Canada for his "commitment to increased health-care options for women," and so on. No comment of mine could go further in exposing the moral horror at the heart of contemporary Canadian public life.
Yet that reality helps explain Gibbons's unusual behaviour. She does not obtain a lawyer; she refuses to defend herself in court. She refuses to make an undertaking, to stay away from the Morgentaler clinic, in return for her release. She has not complained about her sentence, or about conditions in prison, except to demand a copy of the Bible in her cell and to request more blankets on behalf of all the women forced to sleep in certain poorly heated cells. She has also caused annoyance by routinely leading other prisoners in prayer.
In light of which, charges that she "resisted arrest," or "obstructed justice," can be seen for what they are. As she has frequently stated: She can serve God equally in or out of prison.
This is a woman who has chosen a penitential journey; the Lenten pilgrimage. She is a mystery to those unaware that she is imitating Jesus Christ: in acts, not mere words. She has agreed to suffer herself, for evils in which she did not participate -- I pray, to her own salvation.
To those who can see, she is a beacon of light in a very dark world.
© Ottawa Citizen