All Saints Day is not really a holiday Baptists embrace, but perhaps we should.
No, I don’t mean veneration of the seemingly countless number of Patron Saints who litter some calendars but I mean the point of it all, which is to remember the heroes and seek to emulate their lives, or at least the admirable characteristics of their lives. All of us have clay feet, and no hero or heroine is perfect; and so Churchill did indeed have racist and elitist tendencies yes, but he probably saved the entire world from tyranny; and so to Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man with certain weaknesses that speak to a lack of discipline yet he spoke truth to power and showed us how to combat systemic oppression, and so too Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a woman who leaned far too much to the left for my taste but she was a decent human being who stood up for the rights of those without a voice.
Heroes and heroines are important (and note, I often use the generic ‘heroes’ for both sexes) and All Saints Day is a kind of moment when we can think about how are our heroes are.
I wrote a blog several years ago about some of my professional heroes (CLICK HERE TO READ). Today, I am thinking about another kind of hero; those people who are so desperately needed in our world today who go to work everyday and rarely get told thank you, or who often get the opposite — they see the worst side of humanity. Here is my list, and it is far from exhaustive. It is also imperfect in that within each group of heroes there are baddies — those who are not worthy of their calling and who take advantage of their position. I am obviously not talking about these people, but rather the other ninety-five percent.
Those Who Serve
This is a big category, and I use it loosely to describe those who wear or have worn uniforms and put themselves in harms way for the benefit of our society. This includes the armed forces, law enforcement, firefighters, and a whole host of other people who take huge gambles and risks every day so I can live in safety and freedom. I am a civilian and enjoy the civilian life, and cherish that our nation is led by a civilian government. Nevertheless, I recognize that it is those who serve who guarantee this very way fo life. These people are heroes.
Those Who Heal
Nurses, EMT’s, Doctors, P.A.’s, Pharmacists, counselors — I’m looking at you. We could learn a lot about our role in society if we would listen to those who see us when we are sick, hurting, mean, and ugly and still decided to help us anyway. A nurse saved my daughters life once.
A doctor saved my wife’s life. EMT’s cared for my father so often and so kindly as he neared death. Pharmacists do the every day magic of keeping us supplied with the medicines that keep us going. A counselor once helped me make sense of the world and my place in it. These people are heroes.
Those Who Teach Children
If you are reading this, someone taught you to read it. The basic building blocks of your life such as reading, writing, thinking, analyzing, and mathematics are present in you because someone taught you to do it. That was probably a teacher. I can think of so many in lifetime — too many to name here, that impacted my life for the better. These people are heroes.
Those Who Feed Us
Two categories go into this. One are farmers. So much of the farming our land now is agribusiness, which is unfortunate, but the small farmer is what I have in mind here. The family who grows the corn and gets it to market, the ranch that raises quality beef, the woman who sells her onions and tomatoes at the vacant lot on Saturday mornings are all the kinds of farmers I mean. The second category are truck drivers. These are the people who make sure everything we need gets to the giant mega-store. Without farmers and truck driver most of us would starve before winter was over. These people are heroes.
Those Who Remind
One more group of heroes. Most people know what they should do and how they should behave, but we forget. We forget about it because we get busy, we get comfortable, or we get confused. Those who remind us of our better angels and of the things which matter are vital. They remind us to be kind and compassionate, to defend the weak, to stand for the vulnerable, to protect life, to care about the immigrant, to choose peace over violence, that light conquers darkness. We all know these things, but we need people to remind us of it. Those people who do often put themselves in jeopardy or risk in the reminding, and sometimes they are even killed for their courage. That is why these people are heroes.
This is my short list of heroes, the people I am thinking of on All Saints Day, and the people who I am thankful for.