Sunday, November 3, 2013

Where Are The Heroes?

"Heroes are often the most ordinary of men."
- Henry David Thoreau

This morning, I searched the internet for a few people who I have looked up to as something like heroes in the area of alternative lifestyles, sustainability, eco warriors, and general questioners of our present civilization.  I did this in part, because one, whom I deeply respect, is now so old he can no longer read or write.  Another had left the country, and others who had had their 15 minutes of fame, seemed to be resigned, resting on their laurels, or had left the field altogether.

Now, this is not to say that their contributions weren't great - in many cases they were. But who are the heroes today?  It's very probable that there are some great heroes out there, but not being as clued in as I once was, I have no idea who they are.  My mind, for good or bad, has a tendency to dwell in the 60's and 70's, when there seemed to be a whole movement of people questioning authority, seeking alternative lifestyles, and generally seeking to let go of old beliefs and create new paradigms - some freakier than others. 

Today, however, it seems the world has gone status quo.  And the ones who seem slightly off-beat, are still totally influenced by commercialism and the almighty buck.  It's all about their books, or DVD's or their classes, which only the fairly well off can afford.  It's less about love and giving, than greed and taking.  Granted, it's almost impossible to live without sufficient funds, if not downright illegal. But still, far too much of the emphasis is on money, and having all those things which money requires - nice cars, technology, clothes, and so on.  In other words, they want to, on one level, maintain the status quo, and live the modern lifestyle, and at the same time, advocate for an alternative and better way to live.  What you end up with here is a cognitive dissonance - basically two opposing ideas that can't really live together.

Understand, I'm certainly not saying I lead any example of this.  While I no longer really drive or own a car, and live in the same clothes for years and years on end, I do have a phone, an android tablet, and a small computer.  And, I watch far too much TV, as much out of boredom as anything else.  

When I look around, however, I do find heroes, but they're not the flashy kind. Today my heroes are generally unknown. My wife is my hero, if for no other reason than she's put up with me for 35 years, and totally given herself in service to her family.  My friend, Charlie is a hero, also for putting up with me, and never judging the stupid things I say.  My boys are huge heroes, for taking a stance on farming and living simply, even though it's incredibly hard work and they hardly make any money. My daughter is a hero, for having gone through some very dark places, but pulled herself out and still lives with a great sense of humor.  My father, now passed, is my hero, for having the courage to end his life gracefully, giving up food and medication to die peacefully, when he realized there really was no longer a point to continue. Daniel Suelo, though better known, is my hero for living now for over a decade without ever using money at all.  And virtually everyone I know, is one form of hero or another, if for nothing else, continuing the struggle with life. 

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