One of the greatest gifts a person can have is the ability to spot heroes who work among us. Not the self-important self-centered kind of recognition but the kind that sees greatness in others wherever they are.
We dwell among them. We work beside them.
People caring for aging parents with dignity, love and patience. Every day.
People who help others learn important things to improve their lives like that special needs teacher helping a physically challenged teen learn to eat independently or literacy coaches helping a young Mom learn to read so she can get a better job. That same special needs kid who tries over and over and finally learns to use a spoon. That Mom who works on her reading assignment after the kids have gone to bed, so she's ready for the literacy coach in the morning.
Librarians who struggle to help a child find something she loves to read. Even those who gently clean a baby's tender bottom are often heroes.
Heroic people are often not standing at the front of a hall hearing the applause of a standing ovation – they are watching reruns at night along rocking a colicky baby or in a hospital reading a book to a sick friend. They are waiting alone in line on a Saturday in a prison room waiting line to see a friend or relative who made a mistake but is still dearly loved.
They are helping the mentally challenged sort recyclables to have the dignity of income.
Sometimes they are the CEO who juggles a business that provides jobs for thousands and tries to keep as many people as possible employed who also schedules time off to be there for his children's recital or soccer game.
Heroes live among us. They are everywhere but often blind to the fact that they truly make a difference.
Sometimes it is a dad who turns down a promotion so his child can stay at the same school for his senior year. Sometimes it is a Mom who quietly gives up the little things so she can whittle down that credit card debt and start saving for her child's college fund. It is very often the person who intentionally lives beneath her means to donate money to help others.
The world doesn't need martyrs… it doesn't really need more heroes … The world just needs to recognize and appreciate the heroes that are already among us, lest we martyr them through our blindness.
Heroes are among us. The teachers. Oh, the teachers. You who work with children, listen to lies and insults that people in other fields cast at you trying to lessen the importance of the vital work you do. You who live through being misunderstand and maligned by those who disagree or don't tell the truth about “what really happened.” You show up to work every day with a smile on your face, lesson plans on your desk, ready to give it another go with love in your heart and a burning desire to improve the lives of children.
You. Yes, you. You, the quiet custodian who mops up the mess and goodness knows whatever other substance ends up on the walls or in the halls of the school.
You. Yes, you. The school secretary who answers the phone. The bookkeeper who collects money and is kind with upset parents and makes that deposit faithfully knowing that your bank account is painfully empty.. You stay honest even though no one is looking because you are that kind of person. Maybe some think it is not heroic just to be honest, but truthfully, heroes do the right thing when NO ONE IS LOOKING. They don't do it for the praise. They do it because it is the right thing.
You. Yes, you. The school nurse who hugs the crying child who just got sick in the middle of book time and is upset and wants his Mommy. You decide to be personal and close knowing that you might be exposed to something, just because that child needs love.
Please, just open your eyes. Open your eyes and SEE!!! What can I do to beg you? To implore you to see the true majesty of people that the world may see as “common” or “ordinary.” Truly, there are exceptional people among you in your life right now. People who need to be recognized. People who need to hear the word “thank you.” People who just might need your encouragement and gratitude.
True heroes aren't bulletproof. They struggle with depression and recession and the exhaustion of obsession like everyone else.
They get tired… bone tired. They wonder if they matter. They cry because they feel like a failure. They wonder if all the things they gave up were worth it. They ask themselves if they should just quietly fade into the woodwork and go live on Walden pond alone. They wonder.
And if you leave a hero alone long enough to wonder… that hero might just give up. And we can't have that. The world needs heroes.
And if you can be the kind of person to take up the call and find those heroes and say something. If you can point out greatness wherever you see it, then you have just enabled great things to continue happening in this world. We don't need one magician to wave his magic wand and save everyone. We need thousands of people doing good, kind, right things. The kind of magic that comes from consistently doing the right thing.
The magic heroism of life well lived.
We need the kind of heroes that do the right thing day in and day out. But guess what. You. Hey, you.
You reading this.
You can be a hero just by recognizing the heroes among us.
Open your eyes wide to the heroes beside you and NOW, RIGHT NOW, SAY THANK YOU. If you thought of someone as you read this, take the time to send a chat an email or something.
Heroes need help. Your thanks and words may just be all it takes to help them keep going.
Be a hero. Thank a hero and become one yourself.
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