We Don't Need Another Hero
December 11, 2006
Frankly, I really wasn’t sure why Spirit gave me this topic to speak about. Sure, I knew the Tina Turner song—that was the first thing to come to mind. I had never seen the movie “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.” I still haven’t. I went to that amazing internet site known as Wikipedia and looked up hero. The results: 1. In mythology and legend, a man (note the gender reference), often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods. 2. A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life: soldiers and nurses who were heroes in an unpopular war. 3. Someone who fights for a cause, a champion, or fighter
And we have our so-called ‘superheroes’ such as superman or spiderman or batman (again—note the gender).
Then I decided to look up the lyrics to We Don’t Need Another Hero. I have a habit of not really paying attention to the lyrics—making up my own words where needed…. My favorite, that I believed for years was “Sugar fried honey bunch.” Never knew what that meant—but I went with it.
Here is where it began to make sense. Some of the lyrics are:
LOOKING FOR SOMETHING
WE CAN RELY ON
THERE`S GOTTA BE SOMETHING BETTER OUT THERE
LOVE AND COMPASSION
THEIR DAY IS COMING
ALL ELSE ARE CASTLES BUILT IN THE AIR
AND I WONDER WHEN WE ARE EVER GONNA CHANGE
LIVING UNDER THE FEAR TILL NOTHING ELSE REMAINS
SO WHAT DO WE DO WITH OUR LIVES
WE LEAVE ONLY A MARK
WILL OUR STORY SHINE LIKE A LIGHT
OR END IN THE DARK
GIVE IT ALL OR NOTHING
WE DON`T NEED ANOTHER HERO
WE DON`T NEED TO KNOW THE WAY HOME
ALL WE WANT IS LIFE BEYOND
As we move into this holy season, one of the songs that is popular at Hanukkah has the lyrics “not by might, and not by power, but by Spirit alone, shall we all live in peace.” Tina sings “looking for something we can rely on, there’s gotta be something better out there. Love and compassion, their day is coming, all else is castles built in the air. And I wonder when we are ever gonna change, living under the fear till nothing remains.”
In the Hanukkah story it is the brave Maccabee’s who though out numbered and out weaponed are able to persevere and conquer the Asyrians. They clean the temple and find only one jar of oil. Though it should last only one night, it lasted for eight until more oil could be prepared. Some say that the story of the oil was added a few hundred years after the event took place as a way to de-emphasize militarism and focus on something more peace-filled.
We know that we have two choices—love or fear. We can live under the fear till nothing remains. We can believe that we are victims, that we are here to suffer, to sacrifice, to live in lack. Or—we can know that love, compassion, and joy are ours just because. We can peek around corners to see who is after us now, or we can walk with confidence that all is well. We can assume the world is out to get us, or the world is out to love us.
I think of all of the wars that have been fought over whose G-d is better. And, of course, those wars are still being fought today. Sometimes they are fought by nations and sometimes by individuals. And fighting over “G-d” may look like fighting over land or water or other resources or pride or ego. We’ve seen fights over girlfriends or boyfriends, parking spaces or road rage, barking dogs or unpaid loans. We make others wrong so we can be right. If you are not for us—you must be against us.
Just this past week, a colleague at the hospital where I serve as a volunteer chaplain asked me if I would be able to assist her at a Christmas Day service she was offering for the patients and staff. I told her I would be glad to. She then said that she had one request of me—that I not wear my yarmulke when I am assisting. She stated that some of the “Christians and Catholics” would be offended by it. Taken aback, I said I needed to sit on that for a bit. I have made it a practice to wear my yarmulke when I am in prayer or when I am in direct service to G-d. Thus I always wear it at the hospital. It is a reminder to me of who I work for. It takes me from the secular to the sacred.
Twenty-four hours later, after prayer and talking to some of my interfaith minister colleagues, I knew my answer. I was clear that I would not do that. I was still more than happy to be of service to her and to those who chose to attend the service. And, I must bring all of me to my work. Celebrating the birth of Jesus--a Jew--how wonderful it would be to show a Jewish woman taking part in that service. I would be a Jew reading from the Hebrew scriptures. What a lovely model of interfaith respect and cooperation.
I don't believe the request would have been made to a religious Muslim woman to remove her head covering. I am a Jewish Interfaith Minister--that's the package. And I was very clear that her intent was not to offend. I blessed my colleague and wished her well. I also invited her to move out of the fear that she had placed herself in by seeming to collude with those she was afraid would be “offended.”
Was I a hero? Nope. I was me. I was authentic and I stayed in love. I didn’t react. I responded. A smile is contagious. Laughter begets laughter. Love brings love in return. Her final words to me were, “I think I need to pray about this more.”
Tina Turner asks, “Will our story shine like a light or end in the dark?” Each one of us can answer this tonight. We can set the intention to live in light—in love. We don’t have to ‘fight for a cause’. We can just be. We don’t need another hero to end up six feet under. “…by Spirit alone shall we all live in peace.” Take a step into the light, into love, into Spirit. Leave the heroes to history.
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