Are heroes born or made?
It is one of those questions that is periodically asked and never adequately answered. Like which came first: the chicken or the egg? And…why did the chicken cross the road?
The hero question usually comes up as we lament the absence of heroes in our fast-moving, self-indulgent, high-technology, indifferent society. It often seems that we just don’t have any George Washingtons or Abe Lincolns running around, let alone A John Wayne or an Audie Murphy.
But just when you think the night is darkest, up pops a hero from the counter at the Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee (near Nashville).
The hero is James Shaw, Jr. I don’t know him and don’t know much about him. According to news reports, he is a dad and an electrician. It doesn’t appear there is anything extraordinary about the guy.
But when an evil man (who will not be named here) entered the restaurant and starting shooting people – four dead and many wounded – Shaw intervened, took away the shooter’s weapon and saved a crowd of people.
Shaw has been praised by law enforcement officials and the people of the community. He has had his 15 minutes of fame, being interviewed on television and exhibiting nothing but humility and humanity.
Not satisfied with saving a few lives, Shaw set up a gofundme page to help the victims of the shooting. He set a goal of $15,000 and soon had raised 10 times that amount.
Heroes do stuff like that.
Most of history’s heroes are people we have never heard of. They are simple, ordinary, people who do what has to be done when extraordinary needs arise. I don’t think they are either born or made – they just are.
My guess is that a year from now there won’t be many people who remember the name of James Shaw, Jr. That doesn’t matter. The people he saved will remember. He will remember.
Shaw, like other heroes, didn’t act for glory, attention, fame or fortune. He did what needed doing. That’s how heroes are.