At various points over the years, I have been refereed to as a hero – i’d beg to differ and describe myself more as a driven individual, covered in general sprinklings of ‘daftness’. But it’s got me thinking about the wonderful people I’ve worked alongside over the years, whenever I get the opportunity to talk to others about their amazing work, I use the word hero.
My two children are both into superheroes and believe that there are a special group of people out there who have the power to turn around the most tragic heart-breaking situation and create good from it, often us adults push that to one side as childhood naivety, but it has been my experience in the last 15 years that superheroes really do exist, there really are a special people who have committed to fighting to turn the most tragic, heart-breaking situations around to create good. Superman once said that ‘dreams save us, dreams lift us up and transform us, and on my soul, I swear until my dream of a world where dignity, honour and justice becomes the reality we all share, I will never stop fighting …ever.’
The key component to becoming a hero is this – it’s tears. Key to my journey alongside over the last fifteenyears has been the challenge not to normalise the heart-breaking situations those in our communities, cities and nation find themselves in.
Tears are an important feature of this heartbreak. I often say that when we find ourselves in unjust, heart-breaking situations there are two types of tears that we can cry, tears of sorrow or tears of compassion. Tears of sorrow render us helpless and hopeless, tears of compassion cause us to do something about the situation because compassion has the word passion in it and passion always leads to action.
But we can only have hope that our actions will result in transformation if we hold tight to an adage that I often use to describe the work me and others embark on day in day out – I say that we dare to dream that the impossible can be made possible, it takes a lot of effort, a lot of tears, sweat and in some cases blood, it happens at our convenience and inconvenience – but our experience is that is results in transformation. Not because there is anything particularly special about us, because we have super powers or because we look good in lycra, but because we are committed to the one thing that changes everything – the one thing that can cut through the pain of family breakdown, education exclusion, social exclusion, substance misuse, engagement in criminal activity, homelessness, the pain of bereavement – that one thing that changes everything, that super power that is within us all is, love.
Projects and programmes don’t change people, people do. Ordinary, everyday people committed to compassion, justice and love. Let me encourage you to use your gifts and skills for good, to see lives of others transformed, to lead by example and to follow the example of real life superheroes and, in the words of superman I refered to earlier, in a journey towards a time where dignity, honour and justice becomes the reality we all share.
I shared the following quote recently with a friend and asked who they thought might’ve first said it, they immediately defaulted to great men and women in history – to be fair she thought the earlier superman quote was from Martin Luther King, the quote is from Batman but nicely concludes my encouragement to you, through this reflection, to use your gifting and experiences to affect a life for better, even if it’s just one life.
‘A hero can be anyone, even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a little boy’s shoulder to let him know that the world hadn’t ended’.