“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with freedom.” –Bob Dylan
On Aug. 12, 2017 a group of self-proclaimed white nationalists and their supporters marched in Charlottesville, Va., shouting words of hate. But rather than staying quiet or writing it off as someone else’s problem, a group of Americans, including 32-year-old Heather Heyer, showed up to oppose it. They marched against the others, chanting messages of love and acceptance until a car plowed into the crowd, injuring many and killing Heather Heyer. The nation was in instant uproar at the horrible unfairness of it all.
Heather Heyer was a hero. She didn’t wear a cape. She didn’t save the world. But what she did do was get up every day and fight for those who needed it. It’s easy to hate the world in times like these. It’s easy to point the finger at all the injustice and turn your back on the world. But Heather Heyer wouldn’t. She didn’t. And that’s what makes her a hero.
This month has not been short of things to cry about, but we mustn’t forget that it hasn’t been short of things to be proud of either. Every time there is a tragedy, like the one we faced in Charlottesville, there are also people standing tall against it, ready to keep fighting and proving to us that there is still good in the human race.
This month a retired fighter pilot named Amy McGrath announced she is running for Congress, citing her desire to protect people of Kentucky. Taylor Swift took a stand against a man who violated her because she wanted to empower other women to report and fight back against sexual assault, and she won. Kurdish women continued bravely assembling to fight ISIS on the frontlines in Syria. And protestors everywhere showed solidarity and support for Heather Heyer and her family and the cause that she was fighting for: equality.
In the midst of tragedy, it can be easy to get lost in the pain and horror of the hate that caused it. It can be easy to lose hope – in the world and in each other. But we would do a great disservice to overlook the strength and courage of the opposition and forget those who gave everything for the cause. We owe it to them to remember and keep fighting, so that we have a chance at a better tomorrow. Sometimes it’s not easy to stay positive, and all you want to do is turn off the television and forget the news is there. But if you stay informed and active in the world, you just may find that there’s more to smile about than you initially thought. And maybe, with enough involvement, hard work and small acts of heroism, tomorrow will be even better.