Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Small Heros

One of my personal pet peeves since 9/11 is the overuse of the word "hero." Everyone is a hero these days. It's all over the Info-tainment: "Hero Dog Saves Small Squirrel from Certain Death!" But surely, we can't all be heros, right? What use is a word that applies to us all?

Working with such a significantly underserved population has again reminded me that sometimes, the word hero is still applicable to regular people. There is so much need in my line of work. So much material need--people needing rent, food, clothes, shampoo. Not to mention emotional need and spiritual needs that are neglected in favor of those more pressing physical needs like hunger and shelter.

But every day, my colleagues come into work to face another day of doing only what they can, giving only what they can and having to say "no" more times than they say "yes."

This line of work isn't for people who want to be heros or have glory. It isn't a career that will pay much more than entry level. Ironically, it isn't a career that even has a lot of gratitude. Sometimes, it seems that everyone is always asking for more and something is never enough because when you have so little, there is always more needed.

But every day, my coworkers come back. Some days more burned out than others. Some days, tired with circles and exhaustion, the toll of endless "no's" and "cannot's" evident in their eyes. Some days there is a triumphant smile or a story of success. But still, my colleagues come, each with their own reasons for their work, their own passions, their own stories to tell but with one goal: a desire to give respect and dignity to those who have gone without for so long.

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