Send Me Your Huddled Masses, Yearning to Breath Free. Because They Are Heroes
When I first heard that Lynda Mullaly Hunt was running a blog on heroes, I thought two things: “What a great blog idea!” and “I have nothing to contribute!” I have nothing against heroes, I just don’t tend to think of the people I admire that way.
I’ve always thought of heroism as a one-off sort of thing. That fash of glory when, without a thought to his own safety, the man snatches the child from the path of the speeding bus. I’ve always felt the people who have given to me over the years have been the people who haven’t had a flash of glory. They are just basic, everyday good people, for whom making a personal sacrifice for the sake of someone else’s well being or happiness is just how they live.
But then I saw Lynda’s tag line for this blog: Ordinary People doing Extraordinary Things, and I was intrigued. Because I have this phrase on my website, but not referring to heroes. It is my explanation for why I write historical fiction.It is a great disservice to our species to view history as “great men and great events.”
To me, the joy of history is that it is an amazing testament to the beauty and resilience of the human spirit. The story of human progress is made up of millions of ordinary people, striving toward their own personal survival or happiness or glory. People who built railways across continents to feed their families back in China. Who came to America and suffered under brutal labor conditions to give their children a hope of a better life. Who found ways to laugh and celebrate and experience joy in the face of poverty and hard work.
So, I agreed to do a “hero” post for Lynda, even though I didn’t have a specific hero to celebrate.
The one thing that still bothered me, just a little, was that I was not myself being an everyday hero in all this. And I was jealous when Lynda, Cynthia Levinson, and Natalie Lorenzi were all involved in a joint blog project with me at EMU’s Debuts, that they were writing heroic books that would make a difference in people’s lives: One for the Murphys, a powerful comfort to kids with rough family lives; We’ve Got a Job, a testament to children changing the world; Flying the Dragon supporting kids experiencing culture shock. These authors ARE HEROES, writing books that make a difference in the world. I was just indulging my selfish passion for story telling and history.
Then, a few weeks ago, something strange and miraculous began to happen. It started with a reader’s review on Amazon, that said ” I stumbled on this book when I desperately needed a reminder to believe in my own dream and I am so glad that I did.”
And a few days later, this note on Facebook: “I just finished Katerina’s Wish. I am sure you are thinking why just now? Well, because everything in its time, and I read it when I was supposed to. : ) Thank you.”
And then the very next day after that: “Last night I finished KATERINA’S WISH. You know how sometimes you read the right book at the right time and something clicks into place? Yeah. This book, and right now.”
Every comment shot right to my heart. Could it be that my celebration of the extraordinary in the ordinary would be a message of hope and strength, a call to keep going to all my ordinary readers out there? That it would help them find the extraordinary in their own lives?
Could I possibly be serving as an Everyday Hero to them????
And here’s the most beautiful thing about that: these people have all done the extraordinary for me. Because these messages all came in at a low point in my own writing self-esteem. At a time when I was wondering what the point of it all really was, whether it was all worth it. These messages became what I needed in that moment to pick up the pieces, stand up straight, and reach for my own dreams all over again.
Which brings me back to my original question, of who I would write about as a hero for this blog. By now, I hope you can see who it is about. It is about you, whoever you are. Because you have the power of the extraordinary in every good, kind thing that you do. In every moment of conquest over the poor economy, or the sickness of a neighbor, or the heartbreak of a friend. Every time you pick up the pieces, stand up straight, and reach for your dreams all over again.
Keep up the good work. And thank you.
Thanks so much Jeannie. You are a hero to many. Although, you are far from ordinary.