Monday, December 11, 2006

Role Models and Heroes

When I taught elementary school in inner-city Rochester (NY), one of the primary issues was the lack of role models for the students.

Most of those students knew no African-American adults with happy and successful careers, except perhaps their teachers and principal. (And who wants those jobs in the inner-city?) So rap artists and professional wrestlers were the role models for the boys. The girls often had even fewer options. This lack of role models had predictably unhelpful results.

I was reminded of this when I read that some fans of the Firefly television show were treated to most of that show's cast showing up to a cancelled convention. Reading the fan's comments at that last link was very touching.

The cast surely have a lot of integrity, and it may even be fair to call them heroes. They pay attention to these fans from a television show that last aired in 2002. They made a movie in 2005 (Serenity) to wrap up loose ends in the show's plot. They spend some time helping fan websites. Now they visited an unofficial fan gathering that was taking the place of a cancelled official event.

But it's also a bit creepy how much some of those fans who left comments are yearning for heroes. Moreover, these actors have families and careers. I'm guessing that when they signed on to Firefly that they never thought they themselves (not just the characters they would play) would become other people's heroes.

I'm glad my congregants and most of my math students think I do a good job. But if anyone said they were my fan, or I was their hero, I'd be a bit worried. I know of plenty of truer heroes: men and women forsaking their safety, dreams, and economic comfort to bring help to troubled places.

Kudos to those actors from Firefly for filling the shoes heroes wear.

How regrettable it is that today's world has so many unsung heroes.