black and white statue of george washington
PC: Public Domain photo by Linnaea Mallette

Our current cultural context includes toppled statues and discussions of which people are worth memorializing, thus creating two camps. The first is those who believe our heroes can do no wrong. The second are those who believe that few if any people should be considered heroes or memorialized. 

This begs a question: How do we handle our heroes? 

Let’s turn to the second camp first. What is lost when we refuse to venerate or memorialize a person? I believe inspiration for the next generations is lost when we refuse to have any heroes. 

We need people to inspire us, to call us out to something greater. We need to remember what these figures accomplished and let that urge us to be the next to accomplish big things, overcome hurdles. Without heroes, without great and worthy figures whose shoulders we may stand on, we are often tempted to look only at our current context, forgetting our history and losing our aspiration to change the future. 

While we need heroes to help us put stars in our eyes and great dreams in our hearts, the first camp needs to realize that these heroes are people, not gods. One of the greatest ways to diminish a hero’s impact on future generations is to pretend they did no wrong and to refuse to condemn this wrong for what it was. 

It is the humanness of these figures that is often most inspiring. A life that may have been marred by sin, terrible choices, or bad ideology but that STILL accomplished something great can often lead us to swallow our fear and spur us to become better people with great things in mind. I’m rarely ever inspired by what looks to be a flawless life on the outside; I am often encouraged by broken people whose lives I would not want to emulate but who still left an important mark on history. 

So how do we handle our heroes? We treat them like humans. We acknowledge all the wrong they did, the sin, the bias, the flaws. But after we do that, we point to the fact that there is still something about their life that can encourage us and lead us to do great things as well. 

We need venerated people, but veneration must hold hands with reality. No one is perfect but praise God that some imperfect people can still encourage us to do great things.

2 comments
  1. You’re calling statues of confederates heroes? Christopher Columbus is your hero? He didn’t even land on North America. Awful article.

Leave a Reply

Get CT In Your Inbox!

Don't miss a single update.

You May Also Like

Shatner Gets Served by Palin

William Shatner earlier this year did a dramatic reading of Governor Sarah…

U.S. Dept. of Ed to Investigate Sexual Assault Linked to School’s Transgender Policy

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced that it will investigate a complaint filed against the City Schools of Decatur on behalf of a kindergartener who was sexually assaulted in her school bathroom by a boy who identified as “gender fluid.”

Civility, Charity and Politics

Christians are to demonstrate civility and exercise charity even in the political realm, especially with those whom we disagree to maintain credibility.

Fight Hateful Speech With More Speech, Not Less

Kelvey Vander Hart: The key to fighting against hateful speech? More speech, not less.