I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain
what I consider the most enviable of all titles,
the character of an "honest man."
-- George Washington
What do I value?
Life is hard for all of us. It doesn't let up. We each do the best we
can. I respect one who works, who does his best to make his life
something he's proud of, who works to make it better not by stealing from
others, diminishing others, or bullying others but through his own effort
and accomplishment. There are many such people trying to do a good job,
take care of themselves and their friends and family, and leave the world
better than they found it. Along the way they encourage others to do the same.
living in a world with those people, seeing what they accomplish, and
accomplishing what I can along side them. That's what, for me, is worthy of
praise and celebration.
My goal here is to make a list of the people I admire the
most, those who live or lived their lives in special, wonderful ways.
So far, I seem to be
coming up with people who are very political - left wing human rights type
political. That's a surprise to me. The other group that belongs here is
quite a few of my personal friends. It seems that I can't do that even
though I feel so privileged to know these people. Famous people give up
their privacy (in a way), and I have done that too by writing these pages,
but my friends have not.
- Each name is a link to a website about the person.
- The lines below the name explain why the person is my hero.
- Rosa Parks
- She valued her dignity above her safety.
Rosa Parks is special because she took a stand as an ordinary person. She
was not famous, nobody who could protect her was watching, she was at the low end of
the power structure. It was unlikely to turn out well for her. I can
only imagine that she did it anyway, just because it was right for her at
the time. Now she's famous and lived a public life after that and
did it well, but it's that moment when she refused to do what was
expected that makes her my hero.
- Martin Luther King
- He took on the job that was there in front of him. Some of us get to
decide what to do more or less abstractly, then plan, go to school, look
for a job in the field, etc. I suppose he thought he was one of those -
decided to be a minister and did all that stuff. "Civil rights leader"
just showed up in front of him. He could have turned that job down and
nobody would have noticed. But he stepped into it and found in himself
what was needed to do the job that he never asked for or expected to do.
Thats what makes him special to me.
- Mahatma Gandhi
- Another man who just did what there was to do.
He seemed to have no personal desires - or should I say no private
interests. He did seem to have one personal desire - the good of the people
around him. I say it that way because it was so personal to him.
How could he be so "single minded" for so long?
- Woody Guthrie
- I read that he wrote 5,000 songs! - well, I hear estimates as high as 10,000
but the number I see most is 1,000 songs. How could anybody do that?
Woody and the songs he wrote celebrated people and the good works they do.
He loved America - to him it stood for freedom and greatness. He was not
embarrassed to praise it nor was he hesitant to speak out when it failed to
meet his high standards. For this he managed to get on the list of
subversives compiled by the House Un-American Activities Committee.
For a quick way to get a sense of what Woody
was up to,
to read the words of his most famous song.
- Pete Seeger
- Yes, this goes with the previous one. These two were good friends,
did much good work together, and still are quite different in many ways.
Pete wrote songs we all know such as "We shall Overcome" and "If I had a
Hammer". What brings me back again and again to admiring Pete is his
persistent, year after year, working with people to make a better world
whenever he sees something that needs doing. He has been a leader for
democracy, workers rights, ecology, peace, civil rights. One consequence of this
was that he was summoned by the
House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955.
He was one of a very few of those called before that committee who did not
use the Fifth Amendment for protection.
are a few things he told the committee.
Now he's older
than most of us expect to ever be and still working hard for all of us.
- Buckminster Fuller
- Here was man with a full understanding of the complexity and power of
our developing technologies and a vision for a world shared and enjoyed by
all its population. He saw the damage we could do and the good we could
do and had confidence that we would see both and choose a path leading to
peace and abundance. He spent his life working at helping us along the