Our hearts and minds reel in stunned disbelief at the images and stories still streaming from the horrific bombing at the Boston Marathon. We simply weren’t built to process this kind of random, awful violence.
Yet, these events always bring stirring stories of heroics by both trained professionals who leap into action, and seemingly average citizens who become unsuspecting national heroes.
Those who are trained to respond reflexively to danger inspire us. We saw them not only in Boston, but also in West, Texas, where at virtually the same time over a dozen first responders entered the blaze at the fertilizer plant, only to be lost in the sudden enormous explosion that killed many of them instantly.
We are also inspired by the average citizens who react with the same selfless spirit in the face of danger. One of those in Boston was Carlos Arredondo, “the man in the cowboy hat”, who re-appeared in numerous photos and stories, always helping another person.
He and many others showed another side of human nature that counters the awful evil we have seen far too often in recent months. These men and women reveal the essential goodness and courage that also lies deep in the human heart. They are genuine heroes who put themselves in danger on behalf of others.
It turns out Carlos was very familiar with suffering. Years ago he was the subject of another national story. The Costa Rican immigrant father of a Marine son who died in Iraq in 2004, Carlos became so distraught at the news delivered to him at his home by Marine officers, he jumped into their van and set himself ablaze. He survived only because others came to his rescue.
Perhaps it was Carlos’ own familiarity with suffering that motivated him to reach out to the strangers he saw bleeding on the streets of Boston. If so, he demonstrates the truth of 2 Cor. 1:3, 4: “…the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort…comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
Compassion is not often equated with heroism. It should be. The world knows a hero when they see one. He’s the guy running compassionately toward danger when others are running away.
My greatest joy in life is my family. I know, that sounds like the comment you’re supposed to make as a man and father. All I can say is I literally shake my head in wonder at the family I have: my wife Beryl; my daughter Barclay and son-in-law Vince, their four daughters, Bella, Brynn, Brooke and Blake; my son Alec, my son Conor and daughter-in-law Bonnie, their daughter Gemma and son Calvin. Every one of them is a genuine gift. Beyond that, I have a calling that I live out through Peregrine Ministries. It is to help men: Understand their identity in Christ, Embrace their role as men, and Live out their God-given calling in life. Bottom line is I’m convinced men matter and I want to help them live life on purpose.