Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Let's Talk About... Everyday Heroes

Let's Talk About... is a chance for us to talk about anything and everything. It's a way for me to get some of what I am thinking and feeling out onto the page and to engage in real, honest discussion about it with you. I hope these posts can be fun, interesting, educational, and, more than anything, a chance to learn from each other. 

As I mentioned when I introduced these posts last year, they are going to crop up randomly. Whenever I get to thinking about something and want a way to talk about it on a bigger scale, here I'll be. I did not anticipate having another one so quickly into the New Year, yet here we are. I suppose it makes sense. The transition from December to January is often a time that gets people thinking and contemplating - myself included.

Let me preface this a bit. On New Years' Day, we had the evening to ourselves for the first time since before the holidays. We (I) had hoped to watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but that didn't work out, so we landed on Sully. We're big Tom Hanks fans and hadn't seen this latest work of his yet. If you aren't familiar with it, it's the movie about Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who successfully landed a passenger jet in the Hudson River. As we watched, I could not help but think we had unwittingly landed on the perfect movie to start 2017. Because, really, the movie is all about everyday heroes.

Everyday Heroes 

I haven't been particularly shy about my fears for 2017. It's a time of political turmoil and intense divisiveness in our country. It's a hard time not to be at least a bit anxious. I'm working on it, but each day seems to bring a new challenge.

It seems weird that a movie could assuage some of those fears for me. I mean, not that weird, but still...it's not typically the first place one goes to seek solace about the uncertain future of our country.

But, watching this movie, I was so struck by the immense feat accomplished and those who facilitated it. Not just Captain Sullenberger, but the whole flight crew and the over 1200 (1200!!!) first responders who saved the lives of those on board the plane. I think we know cognitively about the intense training and preparation so many of these men and women go through, but seeing it acted out is something completely different. From the flight attendants remaining calm and chanting their emergency message to the SCUBA police (who knew that was even a thing?!) to the ferry boat drivers diverting their vessels to the air traffic controller to the the passengers helping each other in the midst of their own terror. It was incredible to watch.

I know this was a fictional representation, but this all really happened. And it doesn't just happen for "big" events like this. These people go to work and do their jobs every day. They save lives every day through their most ordinary actions. It doesn't usually make the news, but there they are. They keep us safe and remain constantly ready to step in when things go awry.

This scene from the movie captures the sentiment perfectly:

Over Christmas, my family was talking about the current political climate and a discussion arose questioning where the great "leaders" are. "Where are the Martin Luther Kings?" they asked. We struggled to identify many people who are stepping up and being major voices for change as has happened in past eras. Obviously, I know there are people out there, but in the moment of our conversation, we struggled to name very many.

I thought about that conversation a lot the past few days. My response to their question: they are all around us. Maybe we don't know their names, maybe we don't hear about their works, but they are there. They are working. They are fighting. They are changing and saving lives. They are the relief workers on the ground in Aleppo. They are the young working mom on my Facebook feed who is challenging the everyday sexism in her office. They are social workers. They are teachers. They are first responders.

It's easy to feel hopeless right now, but we stand on the precipice of change. We can be the change. There are good things happening in the world. Read this Twitter feed about good things that happened in 2016. Watch this movie and be reminded of the acts of heroism taking place all around us. Identify the people in your life who encourage you and inspire you and thank them.

I know this post has been a bit preachy, but, if you are like me, you can use a jolt of positivity right about now. It's a new year. There are new hopes, new dreams, new goals. Thank you to the everyday heroes all around us. You inspire us and you make our world a better place every single day. 

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