Angela Yuriko Smith
Once upon a dark time, there was a You, and that You was dropped right into the middle of a riot/protest/pandemic/hurricane/wildfire/political-upheaval/financial crisis/murder hornet swarm/insanity… and survived.
You didn’t think you would, and it wasn’t easy, but you did. And now, You are a hero… because, like diamonds, heroes are always made from pressure.
This is how I predict your story will go over the next year. I predict the same story for myself and all the people I care about—so all of humanity. Yes, I could be wrong but I would rather be wrong believing and acting my best than whine my way to oblivion.
This is not to say I don’t whine. We all have our moments of despair and loathing. We couldn’t be heroes if we believed in our own infallible power. That’s how tyrants are made. Instead, a signature quality of a hero is imposter syndrome. There’s always a moment of doubt somewhere, even if it’s off-screen and out of panel. It’s the hero moving from doubt to duty that makes them great.
Another key component of being a hero is compassion. They put others first and will go to great lengths to perform a kindness. Whether it is saving a busload of school children from a collapsing bridge to wearing a mask just in case you are asymptomatic and the science is right. Any act of thoughtfulness toward another being is an act of Heroism.
Humanity is selfish by nature, that’s how we’ve become the most efficient at spreading ourselves across this planet to inhabit every corner, but history shows us that ultimately selfishness leads to societal collapse. Like the old story of a feast in heaven and hell attributed to Rabbi Haim of Romshishok, cooperation and kindness is our salvation. It doesn’t matter how big the problem, or how long the spoon.
What’s the alternative to being the hero? The obvious answer seems to be villain, but I would argue against that. Every villain is a hero in their own story. I think the opposite of being a hero can only be one of the unremembered characters of the story… the ignorant masses that brandish pitchfork and fire to cover their fear, the unnamed crowd that chants for death and pushes others aside to get to the exit first. Not even worthy of villainy, selfishness ensures our anonymity.
We all know that every good story has to have an obstacle, and 2020 has kindly supplied an assortment for us. Some of us are ‘lucky’ enough to have several obstacles thrown at us at once… but I believe in You. We have imagination and resilience on our side. We have been here before, a hundred times in a thousand pages.
To quote David Bowie, “We can be heroes for ever
and ever. What d’you say?”