Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Searching for Heros

I was recently listening to Carole Joy Seide on The Read-A-Loud Revival Podcast.  She was talking about some history books that may seem out of date.  It was an interesting perspective I haven't considered before. 

In it, she said she didn't mind that the books weren't considered historically accurate because they were beautiful and focused on the heroic values of our ancestors. 

I admit that I agreed.  I found myself nodding in agreement to the idea that if we "tear down" those heroes our children have no heroic ideals to live up to. 

I often struggle with this when considering Columbus.  It makes me cringe when friends claim there is no historical reason to study him.  Despite my growing up with the image of Columbus as a hero, I am no longer naïve to the many atrocities which the age of exploration brought with it.  I also do not want to raise children to be adults who are naïve to it. 

As I thought about it more, I realized we read "the great classic books" and our children hear of flawed heroes often. Are we as parents are less hesitant to discuss the virtues and flaws of fictional characters, than of real people.

Columbus for example is not a villain, neither is he a hero.  He is a man who was brave, gutsy or gritty as we might say today.  Did he have flaws?  YES!  What can we learn from that?  Well, for one thing, we cannot judge yesterday to today's moral standards.  But isn't that a reminder for us to not look at what the world around us may consider ok, such as raping and plundering, but to follow what we know to be right. 

I am not arguing about Columbus, what I am saying, is ask your child to examine their heroes.  Although admiring heroic virtue is important, it would be shame to have your children think that any hero could be "perfect".  Everyone has flaws.  Everyone struggles with their flaws and mistakes.

Painting the world through the lenses of rose colored glasses is beautiful, but it can backfire.  Once your children are older and learn the reality, will they question other Truths you have taught them?  Will your child cling to the fictionalized hero and excuse their mistakes? Or worse see the errors as Just because they are the actions of a hero? 

Keep the dialogue open about these topics because this will allow your children to come to you to discuss the people in their lives that might seem like heroes or villains at times.