Unbeknown to many, Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, bursts onto the mid summer scene with a new reality television series, “The Hero.” Conceptually, the series is similar to others. Gather several contestants, room each in a single home and force them to compete against each other to determine the most self-sacrificing. The show is a tribute to Jersey Shore, Bad Girls, Survivor and a host of others.
Personally, I never gave much thought to Mr. Johnson’s reality show. At the 50,000-foot level, it just seems silly. And while I’ve never met Mr. Johnson or many other reality contestants, in the wake of the Oklahoma tornadoes this past week, one has to ask, what actually makes one a hero? What are those indelible traits that transform an average “Joe” to hero?
As a military veteran of aerospace rescue and recovery operations and having received medals facing risks not normally experienced by others, I do not consider myself a hero. From a military perspective, I personally reserve hero status for those who lay in Arlington National Cemetery, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and others like it.
But if Mr. Johnson wants to truly define heroism, all he needs to do is simply visit Moore, Oklahoma, where teachers, policemen, firefighters, doctors and nurses stood at the crossroads of destruction and beat back the face of death. None started this past week with the intention of being a hero. Then again, most heroes never do. Most heroes are benign. They start their day with a cup of coffee, breakfast, perhaps kissing a loved one’s face and wave as they bolt out the door. Then in a single instance, they’re transformed.
Rhonda Crosswhite, a sixth-grade teacher at Plaza Towers Elementary School, used her body as a shield to protect students. Becky Joe Evans used her body to shield children from falling debris. Shaunta Strong worked two days straight making sandwiches for victims and first responders. Doctors at Moore Medical Center quickly moved all hospital patients to a clinic in the center of the hospital, using mattresses and blankets to prevent head injuries.
Seeing the potential of everyone else, each of the above heroes brought forth a self-sacrificing goal uncommonly found in every day life. I honor all Moore, Oklahoma heroes, mentioned and unmentioned.
For the rest of us who live in faith and love, when this kind of courage becomes a driving force, we abandon fear and become the kind of person our society needs today. On a daily basis, through our thoughts, words, and actions, we test ourselves. And by testing ourselves, each of us becomes a hero.
I respect Mr. Johnson tremendously. But for the life of me, I cannot fathom how his reality show will ever replicate true inspiring moments courage. But I wish him all the best.