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  • Writer's pictureBill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 12-1-23 – The Superbowl of Purpose: CNN Heroes

“I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people convinced they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference.” ― Ellen Goodman


I am not a sports guy at all. I only tend to know who is playing in the Super Bowl as a result of the media that surrounds it through a form of media osmosis. It just essentially permeates my consciousness over time as the hype increases. But there is another event I look forward to with a great deal of interest as it is essentially the Superbowl for common people who pursue purpose in their communities. To me, this is a far more important focus than a football game. It is called CNN Heroes, and it airs next week. Grab your popcorn.


What makes it special to me is that it is such a rare media event to focus on a thing that we really need a whole lot more of in our society, which is people finding themselves and helping others by focusing on purpose. It changes lives and strengthens communities. Connective tissue we find in such short supply in our challenging times. I know that I have been watching it since the first year, 2007, the history and a description of the annual event can be found here.


Annually, they find ten people to honor for work they are doing. Having watched it every single year, I see themes. The stories generally start with some average person who sees a need and realizes they have the capacity to help. They jump in with both feet and get involved with things that improve lives and strengthen community. You can often see how the pursuit of purpose not only improves the lives of those they set out to help, but it does the very same thing in their own lives. It is a powerful reminder to me about what is truly important in this world.


If you are reading this and are interested, you can even be part of the selection process. There is a voting process to choose one out of the ten candidates as the CNN Hero of the year. You can follow this link to vote now. Voting closes on Friday December 5th.  I guarantee you that if you click on that link and see what all of these amazing people are doing, it will make your day just a little brighter. It will remind you of a simple truth. We feel happier when we serve others.


Our world is filled with unsung heroes who spend significant parts of their lives helping others. Looking at all the bad news we are barraged with constantly, it is so easy to forget this simple fact. It is also true that you may be a hero and not even know it yet.  I suspect that most of us have causes that can help us live meaningful lives while improving the world around us. If you don’t have one, maybe look a little harder and be open to what calls you. If you do, you are also bound to find that you are also helped by being a helper. Our communities need more of us to be so civically engaged.


A theme of my writings here on the Gratitude Friday blog over the last four years is that the more energy we put in a particular area of focus the more it changes us. If we focus on how the world is broken, we feel more helpless and broken. The more we focus on how we can repair things that are broken, the more empowered and whole we feel. This show is one of the few times you can flip on the TV and see common people repairing our broken world. Heroes.


The truth is there are a whole lot of people around the globe who wake up every day and set out to fix, support, or do some small thing to improve the world. It has always been this way, and arguably people who act this way are the pillars that support our societal functioning from generation to generation. While this is the case, the forces that remind us of these dynamics and instill people to do things that strengthen community are particularly weak in our current era. Do we need reminding of the fact that nothing in our world would work if we continue to allow our connection to erode?


This show, at least for me, is a source of inspiration. A time when a major news source sets aside all of the stories that seems worthy to show. These are generally things that depict our brokenness and for one night uphold people who work to heal and repair our world. I hope you join me in watching it, but I also hope that you become a hero by focusing on changing something or helping others to move things in even the tiniest way in the other direction.


It is my opinion that I am entitled to that this is the one string we have to play on to heal our world. And we live in a world that needs healing more than anything else. Today, I am grateful for one light in the world of mass media that focuses on this fact, just for one night out of the year. 


What are you grateful for today?  


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