Ordinary People, Extraordinary Heroes

This past weekend and some days this week I have been keenly interested in heroes. Whether modern or older I have wanted to know a bit more and pay personal homage to ordinary people who through acts of selflessness and the highest valor and courage, sacrificed unquestionably their own self-benefit for others, for a greater good, for a greater number in the future. Some of these remarkable stories included many war heroes, men who willing put themselves in lethal danger in order to protect their Brothers in Arms, their squad, platoon, or battalion. Their acts of sacrifice are legendary and should never be lost to time.

But there are also other heroes who never fought in any war, or armed conflict, but the risks and dangers they willingly faced were just as daunting, just as consequential as a soldier faces in combat. Many of them are women of the 19th and 20th centuries. Their fight for equal rights, equal treatment, pay, and opportunities in patriarchal dominated societies across the globe deserve just as much awe, respect, and homage as any man’s stories of gallantry, valor, and sacrifice in war! Agreed? Of course you do if you are a fair and reasonable human being.

Some of the immediate names of female heroes that come to my mind are Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Billie Jean King, Malala Yousafzai, and a big one for birth-control Margaret Sanger who eventually laid the groundwork for America’s badly needed Planned Parenthood. However, the one specific woman I was reminded of this past Sunday and Monday was Emily Wilding Davison. If you are unfamiliar with Emily’s unwavering commitment to eliminating injustice and gender inequality, then watch this following 15-second clip of her public statement:

As part of my remembrance to many ordinary people who became extraordinary heroes for the betterment of humanity, I watched the 2015 film Suffragette with Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham-Carter, Natalie Press, and Meryl Streep. The film is pretty accurate historically regarding Women’s Suffrage in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s England. From the Smithsonian Magazine web-page:

The filmmakers deliberately modeled [fictional character] Maud [Watts] on the stories of working class suffragettes, whose activism put their jobs, marriages and even custody of their children, at risk. “I think what was interesting for us was to create a rich ensemble of composite characters who we felt would carry the voices of these women who hadn’t been heard and allow them to segue and intersect with these extraordinary moments of history,” says Morgan.

Horse Racing - The Derby Stakes - Epsom - Suffragette Protest - 1913Many parts of the film were real historical events and characters.

…the bombing of Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George’s empty country house, and Davison’s fatal protest at the Epsom Derby – were real. After decades of peaceful protest with no result, suffragettes, particularly those in Emmeline Pankhurst’s (Meryl Streep in a brief cameo) Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), followed the motto “Deeds Not Words.” Taking pains not to hurt people, they created mayhem by attacking property – including slashing a Velázquez in the National Gallery  – and disrupting government meetings.

Emily Davison’s protest, whether to attach a scarf of her Movement’s colors to King George V’s horse or to sacrifice herself by death or maiming is unknown to this day. What happened in decades and a century later was unprecedented.

Today, Davison’s gravesite in Morpeth, Northumberland, is a feminist shrine that attracts visitors from around the world. […]

“What is extraordinary about that footage is you can see that this wasn’t a small movement of ladies who meet for tea in Kensington,” says Suffragette’s screenwriter Abi Morgan.  “This was a national and international movement.

Emily Davison closeup

Emily Davison’s entire story is quite remarkable for the time-period. She like most women of the time had very few options outside of the home and birthing then raising children. As a well-educated woman she taught as a teacher and live-in governess as well as attaining two college degrees from the University of London.

Davison was tireless and ingenious. She was arrested nine times for offenses ranging from breaking windows at Parliament to firebombing letterboxes. One of her more creative stunts was sneaking into a closet in the House of Commons one night in 1911 so she could claim Parliament as her place of residence on the official census. It was a subversive double protest. In one act, she could – as many suffragettes were attempting – avoid being counted as a citizen by a government that didn’t recognize her right to vote while if she were counted, it would be at the address of the center of that same discriminatory body.

After her first arrest she wrote gleefully to a friend. “Did you read about it? We went outside Lloyd George’s Budget meeting at Limehouse, and protested at women being kept out, etc. I was busy haranguing the crowd when the police came up and arrested me.” She describes breaking windows in her jail cells and adds “What do you think of me?” before signing off “your loving and rebellious friend.”

If you’re interested in more heroic details of the Suffrage Movement—which later fueled our modern-day Women’s March and activism for more women’s social, workforce, and legal equalities—then click here for the Smithsonian’s article. It is well worth the time.

As I finished Suffragette, I then moved on to another well-directed, acclaimed cast and historically accurate feminine hero 2009 film called Agora starring Rachel Weisz. If you are unfamiliar with the great female philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician named Hypatia of Alexandria, Egypt, during the late 4th-century CE inside a Christianizing and increasingly patriarchal Roman Empire, then I suggest you study her and watch this outstanding film. Hypatia was perhaps one of the very earliest suffragette’s in human history.

Nevertheless, let’s never forget that extraordinary heroes come in all sizes, all races and ethnicities, and certainly all genders and sexual-orientations. They’re all human. That is no debate whatsoever.

————

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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10 thoughts on “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Heroes

  1. I just read Lee Child’s book The Hero and when originally posited the term hero included extraordinary actions, so “extraordinary heroes” would be redundant. Which goes to Mr. Child’s point that the word “hero” has become so diluted (for political reasons) that it is near meaningless. He has foresworn use of the word.

    Liked by 2 people

    • STEVE!!! Are you trying to make my library bust at the seams (way too many books!) and bankrupt me with another book you have read/recommended!!!? 🤨😄

      I must agree with Mr. Child, especially now in our super hyper high-tech INFORMATION OVERLOAD Age after the deployment/employment of the world-wide-web, internet, and now the thousands of “redundant” social-media sites! 😵

      I guess this freedom of information is a double-edged sword, huh? That can be razor/scalpel sharp. 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I could never understand why women would willingly spread their legs for men who oppress them. It seems to me that, if you want to end bad behavior, you deny it sex and shut off it’s ability to replicate.

    Like

    • Hi Mr. Martin.

      Though your writing-style reads very familiar to 2-3 past male visitors I’ve had to ban, I must consider you a first-time visitor. I also see you do not have any link to your own weblog or website. This is typical anonymity of internet trolls spreading hostility. I say that in general and from experience. Based upon your comment’s brashness, explicit and implicit insularity, I am obliged to WARN YOU of your comment/conduct here as well as tell you to read (in its entirety) my Professor’s Netiquette page if you wish to comment here in the future. I only give three (or less) warnings. This will be your first.

      For now, any further comments you submit will remain in Moderation to be assessed on content and appropriateness. A great re-start for you would be an apology for this unfounded, inciting, and unnecessary first comment—that’s your choice— but it does hint (smells?) of misogyny. Furthermore, you missed the overall spirit of the post. It was not gender-biased because I mentioned war heroes in the beginning. However, should you choose to improve your future comments for more diplomatic, respectful-styled discourse, then your personal viewpoints, opinions, citations, etc, are welcomed.

      Nevertheless, thank you in advance for complying to my Netiquette page/rules from here on out… hopefully demonstrating common decency and self-moderating future comments. Doing so will improve yours and everyone’s discourse and learning as my blog encourages.

      Regards to you.

      P.S. Later footnote — If modern, intelligent society were to implement your troglodyte “solution,” there would be much more violence—and for the sake of argument and assuming women were strong enough, superbly trained in self-defense, and had a fair chance of defending themselves—more deaths, maiming, not to mention the skyrocketing mental-illness repercussions and PTSD of victims, and our courts would be overwhelmed with way too many pending cases, thus putting MORE stress on a taxpayer system almost always understaffed… your approach would cause more misery and harm. It would also make many more humans UNnaturally void of intimacy with partners/spouses! No, your suggestion/solution would be like curing a headache by decapitation. It would achieve the exact opposite of peace and true gender-equality. I am unsure what result you seek in your suggestion other than promoting violence. I’d greatly rethink and revise your approach Mr. Martin.

      Like

  3. Hello Dwain. We often forget it was the work and suffering of the people who came before us that gave us the rights we have today. It is our duty to pay it forward, by working to ensure increasing rights and better future for those who come after us. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed Scottie! And to be more precise of WHOM deserve our remembrance, “our duty to pay forward,” and protect what (Constitutional, 3-Branched!) democracy, liberties, and human rights have been gained by SO MUCH from those good, selfless fighters before us… yes, we do hopefully pass on these worthy and (very?) costly sacrifices to those after us. Those best virtues of humanity certainly will not, cannot stand on their own for the rest of time. No, they must all be constantly protected, maintained, and enhanced/improved if necessary, because there will be those who want to dismantle them and or destroy them—for ALL the worst reasons.

      We must stay vigilant. All of us, past, present, and future, must stay vigilant. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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