In the book (and PBS television special, I presume) Campbell and Moyers explain the difference between two words that we often use interchangeably in this AMERICAN IDOL-addicted culture: celebrity and hero. There is actually a significant distinction between the two terms.
A celebrity does what he or she does out of a need to express him or herself and out of a need to be recognized for it. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that because the result is a blessing, regardless of the celebrity’s focus or intention (mainly upon self).
A hero does what he or she does for others, sometimes to the point of death (physical, emotional, or symbolic).
A celebrity can also be a hero -- but usually not simultaneously.
It’s when a celebrity truly transcends the limelight aspects of their creative lives and enters the realm of service, not for his or her own need for adulation or adoration (and, again, we all have that need), but because there’s a genuine compulsion to bless, support, help, or validate other human beings. Heroes are far larger than the egos and neuroses that inhabit them.. They truly believe that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”
While it’s customary in our society to say that we believe in the Vulcan philosophy just quoted, our individual actions often betray our proclamation and reveal it as largely lip service. "If it ain’t about us, or ours, it ain’t all that important," is a common perspective out there in the world.
To find today’s heroes, you have to visit
- a place of worship where people are working hard to learn, to absorb God's essence into the core of their own being , and then to step into the gap as the potent and merciful image-bearers that their God says they are (this is the environment in which De grew to adulthood; his father was a preacher)
- or a police department
- or a military base
- or a home with a sick, feverish child -- or even a perfectly well one! --
....to find more than a handful of everyday heroes, people whose daily lives are being poured into others as a matter of intent -- as a goal, as a blessing, and for no reason other than to protect and serve.
If they receive attention or notoriety for their heroic deeds, they discount it. True heroes know that what they do should be the norm, not the exception, and so they don’t consider it anything unusual or extraordinary. It’s just "what they do" because anything less is just not enough…
Of course the rest of us recognize how blasted special most of them really are, but if we treat them the way we feel they should be treated they will have none of it.. not comfortably, anyway.
When I first met De, he was a celebrity to me. It didn't take many meetings with him before I realized that I no longer viewed him as merely celebrated -- he was absolutely heroic.
We - STAR TREK FANS - made De a celebrity. The Holy Spirit made him a hero -- a man to whom extending grace and blessing was second nature...
We all know how extraordinary we think he was... and he was... but he never "got" that, which is why he was able to remain as humble and unaffected as he was by the notoriety thrust upon him during and after the television series made "Bones McCoy" a household name.
What those of us who met or knew De remember most about the man is not that he acted -- but that he reacted.. he responded... He listened, and cared and blessed everyone with whom he came into contact.
I never, in all the years I knew him, saw him do anything other than accept and bless those with whom he shared moments: at a convention, at work, in the market, or in his home. He was the personification of the quote,"Everyone you meet is experiencing some sort of trial. Be kind."
He was an inspiration to me.