19. So, Um… What Do You Think Being a Hero Is All About?

I don’t generally search for profound wisdom in webcomics—especially not webcomics about video games.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I was reading my favorite webcomic way back in March and realized its writer had stumbled upon pretty much the most important lesson ever.

Brawl in the Family is a delightful webcomic by a couple of guys named Matt and Chris. It’s a funny, quirky take on video game characters, and I think it’s pretty awesome.

In one comic, two teachers are asked by their students, “So, um…what do you think being a hero is all about?”

The first teacher, a villain, replies, “Well, to put it simply: ambition.” He adds, “Remember, you are capable of great things.”

The second teacher, a kindly gentleman, replies, “Well, to put it simply: sacrifice.” He adds, “It is not about you. It is about everyone else.”

It is not about you. It is about everyone else.

I happen to be student teaching at the moment, and it’s so easy to become centered on myself. I have to survive the stress of teaching classes and grading papers. I have to keep up with the paperwork for my college’s Education Department. I have to be a good teacher.

It’s also so easy to become self-centered in regard to my writing. I want to become a successful novelist. I want to have a great blog. I want my writing to be excellent.

I is such a little word, but it represents so much. Ambition. Dreams of glory. Delusions of grandeur.

I’m ashamed to say it, but I become self-centered. Then things happen that jerk me back to reality. One of those things happened yesterday.

Yesterday we held parent/teacher conferences at my school. My supervising teacher and I had been assigned to hold conferences with the parents of our MEC students. The MEC students are the at-risk kids, the kids with low grades and behavior problems—the kids in danger of being expelled. For nearly eight hours, my supervising teacher, other teachers and I held conference after conference with the parents and guardians of our students.

Some of these parents and guardians were bright, cheerful and polite. Some were not. One came in with whiskey on her breath. Another came uncomfortably close to exploding into a fit of rage. Almost all of them told us directly or indirectly that they didn’t have much control over their kids, and a few of them maintained an attitude of nonchalance.

They didn’t seem to care that their children were failing classes or causing trouble. One mother was obviously in denial that her son is a borderline sociopath. Another mother cheerfully admitted to being aware of the fact her son smokes marijuana.

It was tragic. It was also very convicting. These are the students with whom I work almost every day—and I get so wrapped up in my plans and ambitions and personal projects that I forget how much my students need a loving, patient, diligent teacher.

It is not about me. It is about everyone else.

Jesus said the same thing when someone asked him about the great commandments—God’s greatest charge to humankind—the ultimate meaning of human life. Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Webcomics, even webcomics about video games, can impart great wisdom.

It is not about you. It is about everyone else.

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