Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary, great minds with the ordinary. ~ Blaise Pascal
“Scandal-laden” is not an adjective typically associated with Canadian politics, but times are a-changing in the Great White North. It’s had me browsing news websites with unprecedented frequency, and in turn, I’ve stumbled across a number of articles describing heroes: A police officer who tied the shoes of a homeless man; a goaltender who kept a hockey game scoreless; a waitress who chased down a customer with a forgotten envelope despite knowing it was filled with cash.
Inevitably, the articles’ comment sections were full of scoffing. “These people aren’t heroes,” readers would say. “Your headline is misleading.” It seemed their objections fell into two main categories:
1. The criteria for being termed a “hero” had become so loose as to be meaningless.
2. If the scale or quality of the gesture were sufficiently grand as to be above the capacity of average people, it still didn’t count if it was part of the job description. In other words, if you’d signed up to be a police officer and been responsible for freeing a hostage, excellent! But you wouldn’t be a hero unless you’d done it while blindfolded, crawling over razor blades and, if blessed with male dangly bits, at risk of becoming Jewish.
I’d read these critiques and in a classic case of projection, think, Well aren’t you effing cynical?
Why would it be so hard to recognize people exhibiting bravery and competence, people living in principle? (Especially given the political articles that brought me originally to the site. What’s up with all the corruption lately?) Why must we eviscerate or devalue kindness? Why not celebrate ordinary people doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways? Or people doing ordinary tasks within their extraordinary jobs?
Judgy-Jan was righteously indignant about their indignation.
If that wasn’t enough to demonstrate my spiritual bankruptcy, this weekend I realized I’ve been doing the equivalent thing to myself.
I’m not speaking of heroism, per se, so much as my tendency to discount ideas or conversations I might bring up here because they lack the patina of excitement. (This is why I’ve been quiet of late.) They might be deeply meaningful to me, they might feel liberating and expansive and make me want to burst into song or dance. (My kids really, really don’t find this admirable.) But I didn’t believe you’d be interested.
We’re told that to have a successful blog we should educate, entertain, or fill a distinct need. People are busy. They both need and deserve our respect, which bloggers demonstrate by delivering high-value content on a consistent basis.
I have no trouble with that premise. I even agree.
For all I know, you’re interested in hearing about why I’ve been sweeping the dog. Perhaps you’d like to know about the ToolMaster’s recent exploits, which he’d describe as simply showing up and doing a good day’s work, but which I find amazing. If I shared that I’ve been doing ordinary things with unusual-to-me contentment, maybe it would resonate or help you find inspiration, or allow you to think, “I’ve been doing that for years.”
Heck, maybe you need to feel superior today. I’m generally good at helping others feel superior.
Point is, none of these “stories” are particularly wacky or humorous–the things which I try to make Tartitude stand for when I’m able–but maybe that’s okay. Maybe I’m not changing the subject so much as letting it ripen. Maybe you’ll come for the Vitamin C and stay for the marmalade.
Do you believe in the concept of ordinary heroes, or do you reserve that label for special occasions? If you have a blog, do you worry about writing about the ordinary? Can you predict what that is for others?
PS: I forgot to tell you about last month’s WU post, which is somewhat zestful in that it features the use of playful language in fiction.