Sunday, November 27, 2016

Heroism (Jennifer R. Hubbard)

We're blogging about heroes this month. For me, heroes are people who do something heroic; they're not perfect people to be emulated in every detail. (Nobody could live up to such myth-making, such adulation, and we've all heard the crash when role models tumble off their pedestals.)

By "something heroic" I mostly mean people who speak truth to power, who stand up against injustice even (especially) when injustice is backed by force and numbers. People like Malala, and Bayard Rustin, and the Chinese student who blocked a tank in Tiananmen Square.

It takes uncommon bravery to act heroically, because in general we don't treat heroes well. They live under constant threat of punishment. They are mocked, beaten, impoverished, assassinated, imprisoned, exiled. Sometimes, long after the fact, they are lauded. Sometimes, if they're lucky, they live to see the changes they've helped bring about.

Sometimes writers aid the cause, challenging unjust systems on the page, whether through straight nonfiction or allegorical fiction. Writing, telling stories, is part of the consciousness raising that goes into adding voices to the groundswells that drive historic change, or that try to warn of dark paths we'd best not take. On this bookshelf we find Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (about the plight of workers and the hazards of industrial food production) and George Orwell's 1984  (about the dangers of misinformation and constant surveillance) and Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here (a dystopian novel about the rise of fascism in America) and M.T. Anderson's Feed (about the human costs of technology and the obliviousness of privilege) and many, many others.

Stories are how we make sense of the world, and that's especially important when we find something in the world that doesn't seem to make sense.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for the reminder that even though it is difficult (and even dangerous) to speak truth to power, it is important and necessary that we try.

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  2. Thank you for this post, Jenn, and for reminding me that M.T. Anderson's Feed has been on my TBR list for months.

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  3. Thanks for the reading suggestions. I find that reading is helping me cope with my fear.

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