Writer Mary Anne Mohanraj, the guest of honor at this year’s WisCon, got me thinking about heroism and goodness the other day. I missed WisCon this year, so I’ve been playing catch-up by reading about the conference online. When I read Mary Anne’s speech, I began to get the sneaking suspicion that heroism has a lot to do with goodness.
Think about it. Goodness may well involve doing something that isn’t popular. It takes heroism for that. Goodness may mean challenging our own cherished beliefs when we discover, much to our discomfort, that what we’re doing is hurting someone else. There’s certainly heroism in that. Goodness may mean reaching out to someone who is different from us or volunteering or working at a task that takes us far outside of our comfort zone. There’s heroism in all of that.
A failure of heroism, a lack of courage, may also lead us, step by step, to commit evil. Some of us may even find ourselves hurting others because, well, our friends are all for it, or a charismatic leader wants it, or we’ve always done something like this in past. And, if we think about the consequences of all we’ve already done, then we’re going to hurt like heck. Better to pretend, better not to notice.
I love what Mary Anne said about heroism:
Heroism isn’t necessarily big things. It’s being brave and doing what you’re scared to do, doing what’s hard for you — what may be easy for someone else.
I have to laugh at myself and wonder if I’m pursuing this quest of mine because, like Mary Anne, I grew up dreaming of becoming a hero. But then again, what may be more important these days than adding a bit of heroic goodness to this Earth?
The world is in terrible danger. You have been chosen, you are needed, you are each and every one of you the only one who can save it, if you will just be brave enough. And it will be hard. But heroism isn’t about not being afraid. It is about being afraid, and doing the work anyway….I am standing on your doorstep, and I am calling you. You can be brave enough, you can be a hero. The best of it is that if you lead the way, others will follow. Deep in our hearts, I believe, we all want to be heroes.