Heroes – or cardboard cutouts?

Those whimsical figures set up to trap tourists always draw me in.

By Rita Corbett

Those whimsical figures set up to trap tourists always draw me in.

If I had thought to take pictures of silly cutouts over the years, I would have quite a collection by now.

During one recent trip, after tiring of astronauts, hula girls and pirates, three of my slightly grown-up children posed as tulips.

Passers-by laughed, particularly when they realized the lanky growths beneath the blossoms were not stems, but legs!

Fun, yes!  But why masquerade?

Life is simply a shallow front if we have no character. Ads, signs, magazines and billboards display so much of fun and appearance, but precious little about character.

We will exit unsatisfied if we leave only trails of pain or laughter, and never make a real difference.

Sometimes we fill our empties with more empties, becoming those things we dislike in others, instead of stopping our parade and choosing to change. Only one thing is needed for me to be a better friend, wife, employee, or hero.  As one of my children said when choosing a different behaviour: “I decided.”

Heroes are often defined as doers of the impossible, but my heroes are the simple and unsung.  Spouses who stay and improve a tough marriage. Young people who stick with hard classes.  Even a movie character in “Courageous” who chose honesty over his job.

Character is the real hero, not the shallow shrine of superficial priorities. Character dares to cross the line between excuse and responsibility.  Character refuses to wallow in criticism. When faced with gossip it chooses not to copycat.

Character is born when love crowds out opportunism, principle trumps pleasure, and encouragement shoves anger aside.

When we choose character we become our own heroes.

In life’s earthquakes, our principles are often shaken.  Like books, we may tumble from a rattling bookshelf.  But life has a way of taking us back to the places from which we fell.  This is a great fortune, for I often need the discipline of a “do-over” or a “next time.”  Without character I’d be stuck with “I wish I had.”

The author of a 1903 book entitled ‘Education’ writes, “The greatest want of the world is the want of men — men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest … men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.”

Men, or women, or even September’s children as they begin school. Real education is more than the 3 Rs. It is character, pure and simple. So we can be standouts, not cutouts!

Cutouts remind me that I carve my own future — that I am created by what I choose.

Perhaps by the time I see another be-whiskered tulip I will be less of a cutout and a bit more of a hero.

Then those around me can better enjoy Living OutLoud, too.  LOL@caribooadvisor.com.


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