When I was little, I desperately wanted a hero; someone who could rescue me from sadness, from shame, from worry about all of my young life’s traumas.
As a teenager, I often sought a hero in the form of a boyfriend. After all, don’t the movies tell you that a knight in shining armor will rescue you from the tower in which you are trapped? When the adults in my life failed me, this was seemingly my last hope. It took some time and perspective to realize I could be my own hero.
Of course, the world is full of everyday heroes. Firemen. Doctors. Nurses. Teachers. Social workers. Normal people helping others. People whose calling in life is to make the world a better place. People who bring hope and decency when we least expect it.
In movements of social justice, we have witnessed many heroes. Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, Rosa Parks, Harvey Milk… These are a few names that come to mind. Hearing their stories, learning about their selfless acts to help others, is heartwarming. In today’s world, it doesn’t even make sense that the injustices they fought to correct even existed. But in many ways, those systems still persist, although in much more covert ways. But without these heroes, we wouldn’t have progressed to the world we have now.
I know what heroes don’t do. Heroes don’t create and support legislation that violates human rights. Heroes don’t leave their country when the people they are supposed to lead are without power, cold, and suffering. Heroes understand the need for the separation of church and state. Heroes don’t give in to the whims of corporations at the cost of their constituents, for example, price gouging electricity during a winter storm, for their political gain. Heroes would understand the benefit of understanding the full impact of our history and the importance of learning from our past mistakes, however ugly it may be. Heroes don’t fear the voices of authors in helping others understand varying perspectives of the human experience.
Looking at the conflict in Ukraine, we see President Zelensky taking up arms, staying with his people, to fight Russia any way he can. That’s a leader. He’s a hero. He is inspiring his people to do whatever it takes to protect their sovereignty. A hero like this is rare in today’s world. Let’s hope the power of a hero prevails over the power of villains.
May we all have a hero in our lives, advocating for goodness to prevail over evil.
I realize that there is much disparity in the focus and assistance to Ukraine that is not necessarily given to other areas of conflict in non-European areas of the world. It’s not fair, and there is so much more to say about this. There is, of course, also disparity in my own country in how people are treated.
Human rights should not be determined by your wealth, gender, religion, sexual identity, or skin color. To deny rights or place favor based on any of these factors means that you think some people are less than human.
I am hoping for a resolution of the conflict in Ukraine and the unprovoked violence inflicted on their people by an authoritarian neighbor. We should have learned long ago about the injustices brought by colonialism and imperialism. This is why we need to continue to learn history.
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.