Monday, August 16, 2010

where are our heroes?

I got linked to this Op-Ed column on women's suffrage by a friend on Twitter, and it really struck a chord with me. Two parts in particular I want to (briefly) discuss.

"We always need to remember that behind almost every great moment in history, there are heroic people doing really boring and frustrating things for a prolonged period of time." I think this is the hardest thing for children (and even young adults and maybe even adults) to fully wrap their heads around. The myth of the overnight success story has become so dominant that it's hard to reconcile the fact that real change takes real time with our desires for change now. It's hard to see things now as the important steps they might one day be recollected as. It's the paradox of trying to see your own glasses. It's a hard thing to grasp, but I think the theory is that it should get easier as we grow older.


"The constitutional amendment that finally did pass Congress bore Anthony’s name. It came up before the House of Representatives in 1918 with the two-thirds votes needed for passage barely within reach. One congressman who had been in the hospital for six months had himself carted to the floor so he could support suffrage. Another, who had just broken his shoulder, refused to have it set for fear he’d be too late to be counted. Representative Frederick Hicks of New York had been at the bedside of his dying wife but left at her urging to support the cause. He provided the final, crucial vote, and then returned home for her funeral."

Where are these people nowadays? Where are the people upon whom we can count to do the right thing even under duress? Under extenuating circumstances? Without needing backroom deals to be cut in their favor, without the lobbyists, without the guarantee of re-election?

Maybe the two quotes are tied. Maybe these people are still here, I just can't see them yet, because it's one of the slow times. Maybe we're merely building the foundation for something remarkable that will come, "sooner than most people think." But as I acknowledged above, it's hard to be patient.

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