The recognition given to many of today's celebrities has little to do with heroism or with the contributions they've made to improve society. However, what parents and teachers do, and the power they have to improve the lives of children and youth, makes them heroic in every sense of the word. Joseph Campbell said: "The end of the hero's journey is not the aggrandizement of the hero... . The ultimate aim of the quest must be neither release nor ecstasy for oneself, but the wisdom and the power to serve others. One of the many distinctions between the celebrity and the hero ... is that one lives only for self while the other acts to redeem society" (The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 2008).

What can we do to recognize and support these unsung heroes? Consider the following:

  1. Actively seek out opportunities to express appreciation. Just one kind word can make all the difference in how a person feels.

  2. In a world filled with negativity and cynicism, it's easy to fall victim to such thinking. Choose to see the good in others. Look for their positive characteristics. Everyone has a combination of weak and strong traits. Whatever you look for, you'll find.

  3. Be patient and put yourself in their shoes. Don't jump to conclusions about the parent with a screaming toddler in the grocery store or the teacher who is late correcting your child's homework. Rather than get upset offer to help. As you do, you'll find that your attitude will change toward others and they will begin to be more patient with you.

It has been said that our children are our future. We can help create a better future by recognizing and supporting the people who have the greatest impact in their lives.

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