Of Heroic Dreams — The Courage of Conviction…

“Hero worship is a perilous practice in which we have seen society fully engaged. While I am leery of such things, and the poor judgment associated with following many in popular culture, I have long admired acts of true heroism, and those who selflessly risk and sacrifice for greater good. There are always potential motivations for good or evil beyond a will to just do the right thing, nevertheless, the declaration, ‘By their fruits ye shall know them’ (Matthew 7:20), has always been a barometer for me to determine what habits and actions are best to emulate. If who we choose to follow is determined by the good fruits produced, and the succeeding fruitfulness of our own humble efforts, then wisely we have chosen the heroism of our ways.”
Daniel Joseph Malcolm, 18 May 2024

As a boy I always dreamed of living and dying for a great cause, the cause of righteous freedom, or RIGHT itself, God’s cause. Historical figures like Nathan Hale, Patrick Henry, Mary, John the Baptist, Alma and son, Davy Crockett, Joan of Arc, the Anti-Nephi-Lehis, Esther, Nephi, Amelia Earhart, Abraham Lincoln, Moses, Harriet Tubman, Captain Moroni, Christopher Columbus, Teancum, Spartacus, Lucy Mack Smith, Oskar Schindler, Kunta Kinte, Helaman, the stripling warriors and their mothers, all were my superheroes.

“In Favour with God — Jesus Praying with His Mother” by Simon Dewey

Power couples like George and Martha Washington, Joseph and Emma Smith, Hyrum and Mary Fielding Smith, John and Abigail Adams, Thomas and Martha Jefferson, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rachel, Lehi and Sariah, Boyce and Lucille Kellett, Spencer and Camilla Kimball, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and of course Adam and Eve, were my aspiration for future companionship.

Fictional characters like Judah Ben-Hur, Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain Kirk, Zorro, Charles Ingalls, Luke Skywalker, Atticus Finch, Rocky, Marcellus Gallio, Aslan, George Bailey, Jefferson Smith, Shane, Will Kane, Frodo Baggins, Don Quixote, Jean Val Jean, John Robinson, and Heath Barkley were the heroes that could only be dreamed of, and dream I did.

These heroes of mine, with all of their shortcomings and flaws, shared one common thing with Jesus Christ, the ultimate ability and willingness to self-sacrifice for the benefit of others, in their day or in days to come. The prophet Abinadi is one such example of men and women of great conviction in truth, the conviction to stand for right in criticism or even danger, yes, the courage of conviction to stand with God and His people even in the face of personal sacrifice or peril of death. I am inspired by people like Abinadi.

“Abinadi Appearing before King Noah,” by Arnold Friberg

How our lives would be lacking if we did not have the sweet words of Abinadi, which to deliver cost him his very life. “But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ. He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death” (Mosiah 16:8-9). What sweet comfort and assurance we have because of his conviction and courage to see it through.

When I was a child I could often be seen wearing my Davy Crockett coonskin cap, flying around the house like Superman, or be heard singing in pseudo-opera style the words from ‘Man of La Mancha’ theme by Joe Darion, ‘The Impossible Dream.’ I was inspired by the Jim Nabors rendition from ‘Gomer Pyle,’ singing the anthem as a United States Marine. I knew the tune before I knew the alphabet, and I could sing all of the words before I could spell them. Oh, how I hoped myself able and worthy to “march into hell for a heavenly cause.”

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march
Into hell for a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

I am grateful to my dear mother for being tolerant of what must have been difficult for the ears to endure, yet encouraged me still.

Later when I was a teenager, still sometimes donning a Superman cape, or sparing to ‘Gonna Fly Now,’ my mother encouraged me again when with a much improved voice I sang near constantly around the house a ‘Saturday’s Warrior’ tune by Lex de Azevedo and Doug Stewart, ‘Paper Dream.’ I made my solo debut with that tune at a talent show when I was 14 years old. Yes, I was ever the dreamer, as I am still.

I take some paper on my hand,
And with a pencil draw a man
The dream of what I’d really, really like to be.
A man with courage in his brow,
Who’s licked his doubts and fears somehow,
A warrior of great nobility….

And in his eyes he’s not a afraid
Because you see he’s got it made
The dream of what I’d really, really like to be.
A brave and noble, fiery youth.
Who’s not afraid to die for truth.
Who’s tall and straight, but best of all he’s free!…

Dream I have, and dream I still do, of having the courage of my conviction to stand before any person, or group, willing to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, to “fight for the right, without question or pause, to be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause.” If the opportunity shows itself, to be like Abinadi, free of his enemies, upon the call of the Lord to turn around and go back and fall into the very hands of those who would slay him in a most tortuous way, that one man may be influenced by the word of Christ, I would like to be a man ready to answer that call. I could perhaps even declare in similar language to that of Nathan Hale before execution, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my [Lord]” (Sept. 22, 1776).

Statue of Nathan Hale in New York City’s City Hall Park. Sculpture by Frederick MacMonnies (1863-1937).

Oh, what a mother, I imagine, Abinadi must have had, to stand so courageously is the kind of courage taught by a mother. She must have been patient and enduring, and a teacher of powerful conviction, like unto the mothers of those stripling warriors, or Lucy Mack Smith whose son would one day stand in chains and ultimately show the same remarkable courage, even unto death.

That kind of courage comes from a mother. I once stood in a hospital room observing the birth of my ninth child when Monica’s heart stopped briefly, and heroic measures were almost required. Following her recovery I thought, “Perhaps nine children is what is meant to be.” Monica would have none of that. She endured five more pregnancies giving birth to three more children. I have never seen courage like that of a mother, or the children who she teaches.

Who better to train a son, like would need to be trained and brought up, to save the world as did our beloved Mary? It was this sweet mother, this patient mother, this enduring mother, who taught young Jesus many of the lessons He would need to become the man who would save us all. She had the courage of her conviction, even as she stood at the foot of the cross watching the baby she bore. If that was not too much to ask, then is it too much to ask that we have the courage to share the message of what He suffered and died for, of what she witnessed?

“The Crucifixion of Christ” by Louise Parker

It is my prayer that we may stand with courage for the things that are right, for those things that are most important, for those things that bring peace and eternal life. May we have the courage of our conviction to really believe in Christ and to follow Him wherever He, the greatest hero of all, takes us. Let us make His ways, our ways. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

“According to Thy Word” by Elspeth Young. Depiction of the Annunciation showing Mary as a young woman.
The scene of ‘Gomer Pile’ at the Lincoln Memorial leading up to and including the singing of ‘The Imposible Dream.’

Daniel Malcolm is an entrepreneur, journalist, photographer, husband to Monica and father of twelve. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.