While watching the horrific video footage of the Boston Marathon bombings and the subsequent aftermath, one thing has truly made a lasting impression in my mind; the heroes.
Amid the shock and confusion and the terrified runners and spectators fleeing in every direction, there were those who, almost instinctively, ran toward the destruction rather than away from it to help the wounded with little (if any) regard for their own personal safety.
I think of the man in the cowboy hat, Carlos Arredondo, who one minute was handing out American flags as a tribute to his son who was killed in Iraq, and in the next was extinguishing the flames on Jeff Bauman's shirt and tending to the bloody stumps that used to be his legs.
There were many others who carried the wounded to safety and to awaiting emergency personnel.
Boston residents were quick to start donating blood and to offer comfort, food, blankets and even the use of their homes to those who needed it.
So why did they do it?
First of all, it's just the right thing to do and second, no doubt they would want someone to come to their aid if it were them or someone they cared about. And third, it's just the right thing to do.
In stark contrast and much closer to home, the need for heroes arose on two separate occasions within the past week, yet sadly, none were to be found.
In two separate incidents, one in Shenandoah and one in Pottsville, two teenage victims were bullied and assaulted while others stood by and watched, laughed, encouraged and videotaped the events to later post on Facebook, where the taunting and bullying continues; literally adding insult to injury.
If ever there was an opportunity for a young person to rise up, speak out and become someone's hero, this was it. Instead, the surrounding youth became part of the problem instead of the solution.
I listened in abject horror and disgust to the laughter and jeering of these kids during the attacks, wondering how they could just stand there and do worse than nothing.
In the Pottsville incident one father did eventually step in to pull his daughter off of the other girl, but he evidently took his darn sweet time doing it.
Is this truly what we have become?
Have we allowed ourselves to become so busy that we have neglected to teach our children the difference between right and wrong, assuming they would learn and master it by osmosis, or, worse yet, have we contradicted our words by failing to lead our children by example?
Bullying is serious business.
Whether it is in the schoolyard or the streets of Boston, disregard or enmity toward another human being is wrong and slices away at our humanity.
Readers, I plead with you:
If you are a parent, teach your children how to be heroes. Raise them up to take a stand for what is right, in any situation and lead them by example; and don't be afraid to discipline.
(Did she just say the "D" word?)
If you are a young person reading this, step away from the crowd and be someone's hero.
Anyone can be the bad guy, or the guy who does nothing. That takes zero effort.
Being a hero takes strength and courage mixed in with a just a dash of humility. It is doing the right thing and putting others before yourself.
Arthur Ashe once said "True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost."
Here's to all the present and future heroes.