I’ve just watched Freedom Writers and was impressed with the story of Erin Gruwell. You can read about her at the Freedom Writers Foundation. There’s also a lot of information about the foundation and the story behind the movie. The movie comes with the official Hero Workshop recommendation.
At one point the woman who hid Anne Frank, Miep Gies, comes to speak to the students. She has some great words on heroes. One of the students says to her, “I’ve never had a hero before, but you are my hero.”
Her answer is, “No, no, young man. No, I am not a hero. I did what I had to do because it was the right thing to do. That is all. No, we are all ordinary people, but even an ordinary secretary, or housewife, or teenager can, within their own small ways, turn on a small light in a dark room. Yeah? I have read your letters and your teacher has been telling me many things about your experiences. You are the heroes. You are heroes every day.”
This says many things. It firstly speaks to the humility of the everyday heroes. “It was the right thing to do” is so common an answer, you almost expect to hear it from a hero. It speaks of the ability of the ordinary person to be a hero – the banality of heroism, if you like. And it gives a definition of heroism: turning on a small light in a dark room.
Have you turned on a small light in a dark room recently? Did someone turn on a light for you? I’d like to hear about it.