Lately, I’ve been thinking about the San Francisco police detective character played by Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry movies. Harry Callahan is someone who does not hesitate to cross boundaries in pursuit of justice, especially when it is clear that justice is poorly served by the law and a flawed system. It’s fantastic to see Harry get the bad guys in spite of inept bureaucracies, corruption in city government, punitive suspensions from duty and all kinds of collateral damage to property – all with little or no harm to countless innocent bystanders between episodic gunfire and car chases.
Movies are made as a form of escapism. We all know we can’t take the law into our own hands and single-handedly and swiftly get retribution. We can’t right all the wrongs that happen in the course of our lives or even fully mitigate the threats of our potential enemies. We love Harry because he represents a hero who can make snap judgments and correctly comprehend the magnitude of evil and with his powerful weapon and extreme precision make things right.
In real life, so much depends on each and every one of us to do a part in making the world a better, fairer and safer place. The real heroes in life never get to confront the bad guy at a moment of truth and say something like: Go ahead, make my day.
I will always be a fan of the iconoclastic rogue police detective in movie fiction. It’s entertaining to see resolution inside the context of a two-hour motion picture. But for me, outside that format I am always inspired by the collective courage people show every single day with kindness, compassion, caring and love for humanity. You are the real heroes. You add up to a better world. You are important.
I hope you know – you make my day.
- Optimist contributor Wes Morgan: originally posted October 3, 2011