It’s ingrained in us to root of the small guy, but no one wants to be him in real life. When I think of my childhood heroes, several come to mind, none of them small.
Wonder Woman, because of her beautiful hair and awesome powers.
Dorothy Gale, because of her ability to travel over rainbows and kill witches.
Beverly Cleary, because she wrote stories about a girl I could relate to.
And Atreyu, the brave boy warrior in The NeverEnding Story tasked with saving a dying empress from certain death.
One reason why these are heralded as heroes in my mind is they remain untouchable, either by virtue of their beauty, their power, their talent, or their task. They are brave and courageous in an obvious sort of way.
As important as I think it is to have heroes we look up to, it’s equally important to have heroes we look over at.
“Charlie Brown must be the one who suffers, because he’s a caricature of the average person. Most of us are much more acquainted with losing than winning. Winning is great, but it isn’t funny.”
It’s one thing to create a hero who is lovable, admirable, and dashing. What isn’t so easy is to create a layered character (especially a cartoon one) who is chronically embarrassed, rejected, and made to look like a fool and still have him come out as the hero.
But that’s what Charles Schulz did with Charlie Brown. We relate to him in his embarrassment and chuckle at his consistent misfortune.
But the heroic part of Charlie Brown is that the kid never gives up.
Charlie Brown doesn’t ride in on a white horse or save the world in a blue cape, but he endures in the midst of everyday difficulty and that’s the kind of hope most of us need.
Like Charlie, we need to know how to carry on as the manager of the team even when our team keeps losing.
We need to learn to trust our friends even though the football has been pulled away more time than we can count.
We need to learn that love is still an option even thought the little red-headed girl doesn’t look our way.
We need to continue holding out our trick-or-treat bags even when all we get is rocks.
True hope doesn’t come from good results, positive outcomes, or sure wins.
The hope that is deep and enduring is knowing we will be okay even if the results and outcomes aren’t a win.
It’s surprising, isn’t it? But Charlie Brown is a regular-day hero for the soul.
He makes embarrassment okay, even endearing. He gives me permission to be small and humble but also inspires me to persevere.
His story reminds me not to run so fast away from failure, disappointment, and embarrassment, but maybe to walk bravely through it and discover what might be waiting on the other side.
If you are looking for a more ways to see surprising gift smallness has to offer, check out my newest book, Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World.