Not all heroes get a happy ending, or do they? in honor of those lost on 9/11
|It was quiet in the church as the pastor and a janitor at the police station approached the podium for the sermon. He seemed to be out of it, and with good reason, for just recently, the city had received a major blow to their way of livelihood. Though for the first time in what felt like years, this service was not a funeral, but the congregation could tell this man was mourning just the same. As they wondered why, John Larkson began to speak. His sermon was entitled "Warriors of Light;" this is how it went:
Today marks the two month anniversary of when we were attacked by terrorists, but believe me when I say that suffering was in existence FAR before that dark day. You see, my son was in the Twin Towers when the buildings collapsed, with us having no word on the whereabouts of his body. Also, for the past six years, my own 15-year-old boy, by the original name of James, had not for a long time recognized himself by his own name. After all, his chosen nickname of “The Lone Warrior of Light” was nowhere near what I had planned for his life. Let me explain.
When my wife and I first saw him, we were very glad to have him. After all, this was a first for us: a birth without any complications. After that, the first five years of life seemed to pass by as if a dream: he had his first set of birthdays, got a baby brother roughly at the age of two, and we even had to move to support the larger family. However, nothing prepared us for what happened when he turned six.
You see, around that time, he started to complain about some of the school kids picking on him. Originally, we thought nothing of it: after all, just about every child was singled out at some point. However, we soon realized that we misunderstood what he was saying. Not only were his classmates making fun of him, his brother, Charles, was supposedly joining in on the “fun” and the teachers were doing practically nothing about it; in fact, some of them were even “helping.” We told him the first day we officially heard his cries for help that sometimes you need to reach out to those who torment you, but nothing in the parental guide could help us with what happened next.
At age nine, when he was most likely at his lowest, he accidentally overheard some of the facility saying that the one of the substitute teachers, who happened to be the wife of his kindest full-time teachers, as well as one of his only true friends, had passed away. Upon further inspection that he did on his own, he found that she was murdered by one of his own bullies at school. When he tried to report this to the principal, and then the police, he found that they both said that there wasn’t enough evidence to do a real trial or apply any real punishment. What they didn’t know was that, on that day, due to the authority figures lack of response, my son ultimately decided to take the law into his own, what he viewed as, more capable hands, in a personal quest for revenge, justice, and/or peace. To this day, however, I’m still not sure what his true intentions were.
To be fair, though, it started out innocently enough: he asked at the age of ten if he could take up mixed martial arts, to which I agreed, not knowing he was planning on actually using it. A few weeks afterwards, he applied for a job as a paperboy/photographer for our blocks newspaper. By the age of twelve, he was not only a third degree black belt, he was the lead paperboy AND the second-best photographer in town. The only reasons he wasn't declared the best were that, first off, he was too young. The second reason, however, was, by far, much more serious.
You see, at age thirteen, rumors started being spread that he would sometimes use his martial arts training on some of his classmates who were, for one reason or another, not viewed too highly by him. At first, they couldn’t prove this. However, he was eventually caught by some faculty doing some moves on a fellow student who, he claimed, had been beating up another third-party student. When the said student was asked about this, however, he said that he was being beaten up earlier in the day, but he couldn’t recall it being the student that our James was roughhousing. James was, of course, expelled from that school. Eventually, the martial arts academy kicked him out, on the grounds that he used his skills inappropriately, and later still, he nearly lost his job, but just barely saved the paperboy role by giving up the photography bit. Even after it was later proven that he was telling the truth and the third-party student had been too scared to act, neither the school nor the academy ever welcomed him back. Not even his employers, who in a way knew him as well as his family did, fully trusted him after these events.
However, the response of the academy seemed to matter little to him: he had apparently learned all that he needed and/or wanted to know. In fact, when he turned fourteen, while I was gathering dirty laundry from his room while he went out for a walk around the neighborhood, one of the few things that seemed to keep him calm, I accidentally discovered the real purpose of his wanting a job: he was using the money he earned to purchase crime-fighting tools, which he kept “hidden” in the back of his closet. To be more specific, he was purchasing an assortment of throwing knives and/or shurikens, a variety of bullet-proof materials, a police scanner, and what seemed to be ingredients for home-made explosives. Though most of the explosives he seemed to planning to make were going to be of the non-lethal variety, I was still shocked to find out he was collecting these items.
As I began to wonder if things could get any worse, they did. When I looked on his computer one night around that time frame, I discovered that he was actually planning on doing the job of the police for them all by his lonesome. It seemed that, at least in his own eyes, he had everything that any “respected” crime fighter with an alter-ego would want and/or need to have: a list of potential suspects for various crimes, as well as the run-down of those who were in the rest of the hierarchy of the gangs they were supposedly members of, the "right" gear, the "proper" training, the mental preparedness (even with all the teachers whom he believed couldn’t stand him, he got straight A’s in virtually every subject), and, apparently, a "uniform" that was already planned out to the very last stitch and seam. However, what I didn’t know is that he had already started.
A few days before his next birthday, the headlines were suddenly ablaze with tales of a masked vigilante going by the name, “The Dauntless Dove.” Apparently, eyewitnesses reported him showing up at bank robberies, hostage situations, and/or drug busts. Apparently trying to help free the hostages and/or capture the crooks, many of those who saw him said he was little more than "a mere boy dressed up for comic con with a lot of luck on his side." If I’m going to be honest, however, he was probably active a lot longer than what is officially known to even the mayor, given that he almost looked disappointed when the news stations first came out with his alter ego as one of the top stories.
The police force frowned upon anyone who took the law into their own hands in the city of New York, but I managed to talk them out of arresting him on the basis that doing so might cause him to sink even further into the way of life he had chosen. I told them that, from what I little I knew, he was trying to bring peace into the lives of people who were abused and/or ignored like he had been by showing them that they had nothing to fear when it came to the criminal underworld and that simply arresting him would only solidify in his mind what he already believed: that the majority of society didn’t care about anything but their own self-image. Since I knew the prime suspect of these "crimes" best, they decided to see if I could talk him out of being a vigilante before making a move to arrest him. Whatever happened afterwards would help them prepare a suitable “punishment” for his actions. However, nothing could help us prepare for what happened next.
The day I was driving home from a meeting at the police station, where the police, on my request, decided to just give James a period house arrest if I could talk him out of being a "superhero," I suddenly heard someone on the radio saying that a plane had just flown into the northern tower of the World Trade Center. I immediately turned around for two reasons: the first being that my wife, who worked there, and Charles, who was on a class field trip, were both right in the southern building and chances were that if the northern tower went, the southern might go as well.
The second reason, however, applied to my other son. Chances were that James, if he was indeed the Dauntless Dove, was already on his way towards that location there on what some of his rare fans called his "afternoon patrol." This meant that if he knew that his family was in trouble, which he more than likely did, he would attempt to rescue them, for I knew that even though he sometimes voiced his beliefs that we didn’t really love him, deep down, he still loved us. As I hurried along to try and stop him, however, a second plane streaked across the sky in the same direction I was going in.
I hurried along as fast as I could, almost not even caring about the speed limit and other traffic laws. Unfortunately, I arrived too late, for as soon as I got to the building, it collapsed. However, someone had managed to make it inside. Official reports say it was an unnamed kid in a mask. When I asked around, however, one of the men who survived the collapse gave me the mask the boy had worn into the building. Although I recognized the design from what I saw on my son's computer, I still asked who was behind the mask. The man, who was actually one of the people on field trip, simply stated, "It was James."
My son guided at least twelve people out of the building that day, with a few of them being police officers who were hurt trying to save others. When I heard about this, I cried, for I then knew that he was trying to save, not only those he cared about, but those he had felt had wronged him. In those final moments of his rescue, however, he forgot to take into account his own safety. I know because I just barely saw him push out his last rescue out the front door as the building collapsed.
I know it was James who pushed that man out because the person who gave me the mask was my other son, Charles, and, for all their faults, neither one of my children were known for lying to family members. I firmly believe the only reason that James never told me that he was, in fact, the Dauntless Dove was that I never truly asked him. However, this story I tell you today is one that could have been avoided.
You see, God doesn't want us to be The Dauntless Dove, The Fearsome Falcon, or even The Mutant Muppet. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be a Warrior of Light, as long as we let the Lord take care of those who do wicked. After all, He often tells us in His word that it is His place to repay people for their crimes. When all is said and done, He is the only one who can deliver true justice, which is why we should respect his wish for us not to seek vengeance against those who have “wronged” us.
What’s more, if I, as a father, had heard my son’s cries for help when they first began, I might have been able to stop The Dauntless Dove from ever coming into existence. After all, if I could have convinced Charles to help his brother out and advise him in forgiving his enemies, I might not have needed to see him get crushed by that falling building. Although, as we all know, nothing can change the past: we can, however, learn from it so that we can make a better future for all. We all know that this is what God would want.
One last thing to note: if you are planning to be a Warrior of Light one day, be aware of a few things. The first is that not all wars need to be fought with weapons. After all, God has called us to love one another. When we share God’s word with one another, know that we are already winning the battle against the cravings of the flesh, the “wisdom” of this world, and the lies of the devil.
The second thing to note is that we don’t need to be afraid to speak out against injustice and/or the oppression of others. This doesn’t mean that we take should matters into our own hands, however. On the contrary, just as the hand cannot do the job of the foot very well, the flight attendant shouldn’t have to do the job of the pilot. We are all members of the body of Christ and we each have our own duties to God which only we can do. So when you see someone breaking the rules of society or even the government, get someone else’s attention instead of charging into danger without a clear plan of action. Just remember, however, that we must obey God’s law above all else and that if the government or even a close friend is telling you to do something that doesn’t fit with what He taught us, we should just walk away.
The third thing to remember is that we don’t have to be afraid, but that it is alright if we feel fear. After all, even Jesus himself faced at least the fear of ultimately being separated from His Father. Even so, He knew that having courage and bravery was not about not being fearless, but pushing that fear aside and doing what needs to be done. However, as God has won the final victory over evil, we truly have nothing to fear except that which feels none. That said, should we ever come across something like this, we will trust that God will provide a way out of the danger zone, just like he promised us in his word.
Finally, we must remember that we are all God’s children and when we choose to do good deeds, we are already heroes in the eyes of on-lookers. If, however, we follow the flawed philosophy of “an eye for an eye,” we will be just as blind of our own true purpose of following God’s word as those who have not yet realized the truth. Truly, there are no real “freaks of nature” in the kingdom of heaven, for we were all made by God’s hand. That said, when we choice to turn a blind eye on someone’s pain, whether it is caused by your hand or that of someone else, we are no different than those who recently tried to destroy us, not just as a religion or a nation, but as a way of living.
May the Lord give us support in these dark hours, so that those who would oppose us might learn that those who live by the sword will die by the sword. May those of you who have lost someone close to you in the recent events find comfort in the fact that we may see again once we reach paradise. And may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, be in your hearts, now and to eternity. Amen.
The rest of the service went the way it usually did, though one man in the back of the church looked a little disgruntled at the words that had been spoken. When the service was over, he approached the pastor. “Your sermon was interesting,” he remarked, “but it almost sounded like you don’t think your son made it out of there alive.” Pastor Larkson sighed and stated, “I just don’t know, okay? I haven’t heard anything for days, so I’m not sure if it’s possible if he’ll ever be found.” “It’s VERY possible,” the man suddenly stated, handing him a slip of paper, “I worked with the cleanup crew a while back and was asked by the police chief himself to deliver this to you.” As he looked upon the document, he couldn’t stop the slight smile and tears that began to appear on his face.