How to Become a Hero c.j. hayden
   How to Become a Hero
   You Are the Champion the World Is Waiting For

   C.J. Hayden, MCC

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Do heroes carry swords or clipboards? 

Walking in Golden Gate Park last weekend, I was startled by the sight of a uniformed Hussar charging across the Arboretum lawn on horseback, yelling and waving a sword. Even in San Francisco, this was an odd sight, but it seems that the Park Band was celebrating St. Stephen's Day with a program of Hungarian music and dance, and a group of Hussar reenactors on horses were part of the event.

A short distance away, a quiet man holding a clipboard was standing. He wasn't part of the special Hungarian celebration. In fact, he's there every Sunday afternoon in the same spot near the Arboretum entrance. "Save the rain forest," he calls out to passers-by, "Sign the petition." I signed his petition a long time ago -- years ago, actually. Because the Rain Forest Man has been coming to the park with his clipboard on Sundays for as many years as I've been taking that walk. I can't recall a time before he was there.

Seeing the Hussar and the Rain Forest Man side by side, I began to wonder -- which of these two men is the better model of heroism? There was the sword-bearing Hussar, strong and brave in his dashing uniform, galloping by on a spirited horse. He was the very image of a storybook hero. Rain Forest Man, on the other hand, is soft-spoken and not particularly well-dressed. Armed only with a clipboard, he stands quietly on the sidewalk instead of charging at his foes.

This type of quiet, persistent heroism is easy to overlook. If you weren't walking right by him, you would never notice Rain Forest Man. I've never read about him in the paper; I don't even know his name. But every Sunday afternoon, he reminds me and everyone who passes that the rain forest needs to be saved. And he's been doing it for years.

It often seems that the warriors with the swords get most of the press and all the glory, while the clipboard-carrying workers toil quietly in the background. But which type of hero is more likely to ultimately make the world a better place? I think in this case the clipboard can be mightier than the sword.

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