Tuesday, June 17, 2008


"Heroism is not only in the man, but in the occasion."
Calvin Coolidge

Who is a hero? Is it Tiger Woods, for winning, again, but doing so while battling an obviously balky knee? Or the courage and determination the man he beat, Rocco Mediate, showed while losing the tournament, but winning the hearts of millions of golf fans and non-golf fans alike? Maybe you feel that what the Boston Celtics pulled off earlier this night constitutes an act of heroism? This is a team, after all, that had the worst record in its conference last year, was dismantled over the off season and reconstructed, overcame injuries and a superb Laker team, to win it all.

I love sports and have been a fan for most of my fifty-plus years. And while I am prone, on occasion, to wax heroically about my sports icons, I know that even they would agree that true heroes are more about what President Coolidge stated. "...not only in the man, but in the occasion." Such an occasion occurred recently in Chico, the town I call home.

You may have seen or heard about the wildfires that burned out of control for days here in Butte County last week. What began as a small brush fire, a few miles behind my neighborhood, swiftly, propelled by gusting winds, evolved into what locals here have feared for decades: an uncontrolled fireball heading right for the small town of Paradise, a quaint community in the foothills above Chico. Thousands of firefighters from dozens of states battled the blaze, finally containing the conflagration after nearly a week's struggle, but not before it charred over 23,000 acres and destroyed 74 homes. How's that for heroism? My heartfelt thanks to the men and women who fought this blaze and won.

Our community, while still singed and smokey, survived. Paradise remained like its name, while others lost everything. At one time nearly ten thousand folks had to evacuate their homes and seek shelter elsewhere. There was also an amazing outpouring of giving and charity from the townspeople during this time. Talk about heroism. My wife and I, while wanting to do our part, discovered a great volunteer center, caring-choices.org. Their efforts and charitable contributions during this trying time were only one of hundreds, but worthy of singling out. These are the real heroes. The people of Chico and our surrounding towns are the real heroes.

Most of us, when confronted with a challenging occasion, want to step up, set a good example, do our best, be a hero. While few, if any, of us can contend on a golf course with Tiger or Rocco, or try to defend Paul Pierce or Kobe, all of us, when given the chance, can rise to the occasion and discover the heroism that resides inside us all.

Until next time...



Anonymous said...

What a great blog! Thank you. I pulled for Rocco (I do like underdogs) but I can see how much it meant to Tiger. Someone the other day said to me as I tended to the garden - it's not how good the garden looks, it's how much care and enjoyment you get from it that counts. I think both golfers cared about the sport, sportsmanship and the role in history they were playing. It reminded me a bit of the book: The Greatest Match Ever Played. Thanks for letting me wax rhapsodic! Ed

Anonymous said...

The power of community works. In development language we call this: social capital. Trust is the core building force of social capital, without which development, relief and rehab are impossible. Peter Evans is a good start to read about the power of community synergy....Bro. Erle Argonza

Eric S. said...

The heroism of communities, humanity in general in real times of disaster has always amazed me. Being from the Colorado Mountains, and witness to the fires of 2002. I also was witness to many real and true acts of heroism. The community pulling together and helping each other out was best among these. Even long time "feuding neighbors" put differences aside and helped out.

Anonymous said...

Visiting here today..Stay happy!!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you made it through the fires OK. I was close to the fires in Orange County 6 months ago, and, as heartbreaking as the damage was it was beautiful to see how many people jumped at the opportunity to help.