Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The heroes in my life

In the past week, several of my favourite blogs spoke about “everyday heroes” – the people who make a difference in this world, the people we look to for direction and mentoring and who encourage us, directly or indirectly, to become better people.

I was thinking today, as I re-read the story of Lis’ Kristof and thought about the lessons she offers to us, that she is one of the everyday heroes from whom we can learn how to make this world a better place.

In history books, there are many stories of “heroes” – mostly men, as “history” was often perceived only through male eyes and produced by male writers and publishers – a history of men’s politics and men’s experiences in war. More recently, the term has been applied to some exceptional women like Mother Teresa. But it is the everyday people that make the difference in the lives of you and me.

So who are my heroes? The ones from whom I learn how to live?

My family, of course. My mom who hiked mountains well into her seventies, my dad who taught me to fish and to do basic carpentry, my siblings who are always there for me, and my daughter – my precious daughter – who caused many of my grey hairs but grew to be a beautiful woman in spite of my serendipity parenting techniques.

There have been teachers who opened my eyes to inequality and justice and critical analysis , from Ms. Peckover who taught me that acceptance of difference and respect for others are essential for cooperative activities on the floor of my Grade One classroom to Professors Mackie and Hiller and Mills and countless others at university who challenged everything I believed to be true about my world and introduced me to the fascinating world of sociology.

Then there was Mrs. Ireland who walked her talk; she was a senior when I met her during my university years and at age 96 she was still delivering meals for Meals on Wheels. She taught me about grace and generosity and compassion and stewardship and service.

Some of my students are my heroes – students who have struggled to overcome adversity, to learn despite ongoing challenges in their personal lives, students who set their goals and plod steadfastly towards them as best they can and still manage to find time to help a friend, raise a child, or volunteer in their community.

Many of my friends in rescue are heroes in my eyes - friends who give their all to make the world a better place for the animals even when the tasks are endless and the financial and human resources are stretched to the limits.

Online friends spend time researching issues, sharing information, providing support for those of us trying to raise our animals in the best and healthiest ways we can – they, too, are my heroes.

And then there are the animals. They are my heroes. Both the rescued, who have been damaged and hurt and neglected and frightened but have left it all behind, without a grudge, to love another. And those who are still living in their misery, finding each day the strength to go on because they know no other alternative. These friends, these critters, teach us so much about courage and fortitude and resourcefulness and flexibility and love and forgiveness - how can they not be the greatest heroes of all?

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