A reporter approaches, asking what happened. Jeremiah talks about the rain, and of being rescued. He then looks straight into the camera and says, “We thank God. We thank God. This all we got. We lost the car, all the clothes, school clothes, everything’s gone. Everything’s gone.”
The reporter asks where they’ll go next.
“We don’t know,” Jeremiah says.
“But you’re thankful?” the reporter asks, clearly taken aback by Jeremiah’s gracious thanksgiving to God in the wake of losing everything.
“Yeah, we’re thankful.”
Jeremiah’s story is a call to action for the rest of Americans to take a step back and reevaluate their own lives. Many of us complain so often about things we don’t have, would like to change, envy others for possessing, etc. that we don’t even realize we are complaining anymore. The desire for more has become second nature in this society where immediate gratification nearly always wins out over satisfaction with what one has. We are all guilty of it from time to time, but seeing Jeremiah’s hopeful and grateful attitude despite losing everything he owns should remind us of what is truly important in our lives. Sorrell recognizes this and goes on to discuss the true heroism behind Jeremiah’s words:
Comic book writer J. Michael Straczynski once said, “For a lot of people, Superman is and has always been America’s hero. He stands for what we believe is the best within us: limitless strength tempered by compassion, that can bear adversity and emerge stronger on the other side. He stands for what we all feel we would like to be able to stand for, when standing is hardest.”
This is Jeremiah. He’s not pulling someone from a sinking car. He’s not the Cajun Navy. He’s not a first responder working 20 straight hours saving lives. He can’t be. He has a son to take care of, and in that brief exchange Jeremiah gave us an honest glimpse of the private conduct of a father. His son can look upon his father and see gratitude, humility, and strength; not the grievance and victimhood that is celebrated in our political life today. And I believe he will better off for it.
To conclude, Jeremiah is not only a wonderful role model for his son, but for all Americans. He is a reminder that it is not tragedy or hardship which defines us; we do not have to terminally be victims of circumstance. Sorrell begins his piece with an inspiring quote from Walter Anderson touching on this subject. Challenge yourself to live by it:
Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have—life itself.
– Walter Anderson, 1885-1962