While taking a quick lunch glance at my preferred daily news app on my phone, I noticed that last night was The MTV Video Music Awards. Apparently, Kanye West successfully made the transition from goat in 2009 (his infamous verbal lashing of Taylor Swift), to "Hero" in 2015 as he received the Video Vanguard Award. Oddly enough, Taylor Swift had the blessing of presenting Kanye with his trophy. I could not help myself, I had to watch the speech. Here is what I learned about Kanye West:
- He is idolized. Much of this generation of millennials believe that Kanye West is a hero. I was in awe over the lingering standing ovation and the shouts of affirmation that he garnered. The applause seemed to swell over and over again as Kanye methodically breathed in the crowd's approval.
- He knows how to work a crowd, a generation. "Listen to the kids!", was his mantra for the night. He shouted what every millennial wants to hear: "we are all winners", "there are no losers", "trust your feelings", "do the wrong thing as long as there is a good reason", "it's somebody else's fault", "you're a victim", "you don't have to apologize", etc.
- He knows how to roll up a little something to knock the edge off and appreciates the taste of Hennessy whiskey. Solid traits of a "hero", right?
- He's going to say what he feels needs to be said.
- He's running for president in 2020
Please hear my heart. Kanye West is an incredibly talented musician and all around entertainment mogul. However; I do not believe him to be a hero nor do I personally believe that he should be considered a hero.
he-ro noun: a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
PFC Ross E. Rader is not a man that many of you will know or recognize. He certainly will never be glamorized at The VMAs. However; he is a hero. Ross served in The United States Army and proudly defended our country in World War II. He was a prisoner of war. By the grace of God, he made it back home and invested his life into his family. He was a hard working american that taught his kids the values of working hard, loving each other, and faith. He never seemed to be in a rush and had an uncanny ability to understand the value of the simple. His pace allowed for him to squeeze every ounce of value out of each precious moment. He was generous with what he had. Loved God. He was Kind, Honest, Virtuous, Brave, and Fair. Ross was not a perfect man, most heroes are not, but he was courageous and admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. It is one thing for a family to see someone like Ross as a hero, but it wasn't just his family. It was his church, community, friends, and pretty much everyone who knew him. For me... I met him later in his life; I married one of his granddaughters. By the time I joined the family, Ross was later in years and at the end of his earthly journey. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and fought valiantly until his death. In Ross, I only saw glimpses of this great hero. Through the family that I married into; I have experienced his legacy. That is how a man like me can spend so little time with a man like Ross, but still feel like I know him. He is one of my heroes. Not Kanye.
I guess I am writing this as sort of a plea to a generation to value heroism. To not just let the winner of a popularity contest have the rights to be a hero in your life. To not just listen to what people say, but to also watch their lives and see their heart. True heroes are so hard to find and it is easy to drop our guard and let just anyone carry that mantel. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote,
"The characteristic of genuine heroism is its persistency. All men have wandering impulses, fits and starts of generosity. But when you have resolved to be great, abide by yourself, and do not weakly try to reconcile yourself to the world. The heroic cannot be the common, nor the common the heroic."