Super Bowl XLVI (that’s “46” for those of us who have forgotten our Roman Numerals) was memorable for many reasons. Tom Brady did not win a 4th Super Bowl. Eli Manning won his second, both at the expense of Brady. Budweiser, E Trade, and several other companies produced memorable Super Bowl commercials. And Madonna, with apologies to the “material girl,” showed maybe she should sing more and dance less at this point in her career. But of all the things people are still discussing several days after the game has ended, perhaps Chrysler’s commercial featuring Clint Eastwood’s is the most significant.
Some would suggest Eastwood and Chrysler were paying homage to a particular political party or individual. And while much of today’s meeting blurs the line between entertainment and political agendas (on both sides of every issue) that is not what this little essay is about. In truth, it really isn’t what people are buzzing about either. The buzz is merely a symptom of a much deeper issue, a hunger if you will. At the heart of the discussion is our concern over our present condition as individuals, as a nation, and our future. This concern resonates with everyone when Clint rasps “It’s halftime in America too” and points to our need for heroes who would lead us, who would somehow call us to something higher, someone who would challenge us to be more than we are now, and who reminds us what we are capable of achieving. That is what real leaders do.
Leaders are heroes who give us hope. FDR did it in the Thirties. Martin Luther King did it in the Sixties and Reagan did it in the Eighties. Churchill did it when the Nazis were bombing London. Ghandi did it in India. Heroes aren’t limited to a political philosophy, faith, or by geography. They are men and women, young and old. Heroes shatter our “mind set” and challenge us to believe. They are resolute. Courageous. Unwavering. They bear burdens under which many of us would buckle. They are charismatic, boring, micromanagers, and visionaries, humble and proud. They are profoundly human, these heroes. But they all call us to be more.
In 1984 the Welsh recording artist, Bonnie Tyler, released her version of “I Need a Hero. While essentially a love song, the lyrics that follow apply to us as individuals and as a nation.
“I need a hero. I’m holding out for a hero…He’s gotta be strong, He’s gotta be Fast, And He’s gotta be fresh from the fight….He’s gotta be sure. And it’s gotta be soon. And he’s gotta be larger than life.”
Hero’s are leaders who are strong. They are fast. They are larger than life. They are not just CEOs or Presidents. They are mothers and fathers who believe in their children; who see more in their children than they see in themselves. They are businessmen and women who make barely make payroll and forego a check for themselves. Heroes are Pastors and Rabbis that encourage people to hope even when they have lost family, businesses, and health. Heroes are teachers and coaches that keep cajoling and coaxing and challenging kids to be more. Even when it is “halftime in America” heroes make our day. Clint Eastwood “made” mine this past Sunday when he unknowingly challenged me to be a hero. Go ahead. Make someone’s day. Be a hero. Soon.
Keep the Faith.