Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Heroes & Celebrities

I found the sweetest Web site today, called My Hero Project. It is a nonprofit educational web project that archives stories of "heroes" from around the world. The site features stories of heroes from the Associated Press, resources for teachers, a searchable hero directory and tools for young people (and adults) to create a, "My Hero Webpage".

I came across the Web site while surfing for information about the book I am reading right now, Notes from My Travels by Angelina Jolie. Several young women had created Hero Webpages about her. I'm only a quarter of the way through the book, but so far, I am enjoying it. Jolie isn't a fantastic writer, which she admits, but she records what she sees on her travels in 2001-02 with the UN Refugee Agency through Africa, Cambodia, Pakistan and Ecuador in a straightforward, simple way.

I particularly liked one little bit where she admits that she is surprised to hear that there are still problems in Ethiopia, but reminds herself, "these problems do not disappear just because we do not hear about them. And in that thought--there is so much more happening around the world than what is communicated to us about the top stories we do hear.

We all need to look deeper and discover for ourselves . . .
What is the problem?
Where is it?
How can we help solve it?"

On another celebrity note, I was also given Bono on Bono by Michka Assayas for my birthday this year. (It is called Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas in the States, but my version came from a friend in Dublin). Bono has always kind of gotten on my nerves with his blue sunglasses and black leather jacket, but I finished the book and had more respect for him.

He tells one wonderful story that Harry Belafonte, who is one of his heroes, told him about Martin Luther King. I'm posting an excerpt of it here because I think it is a good lesson for these times, when it is so easy to hate the people who we don't agree with:

"Bobby [Kennedy] at that time was famously not interested in the civil rights movement. We knew we were in deep trouble. We were crestfallen, in despair, talking to Martin, moaning and groaning about the turn of events, when Dr. King slammed his hand down and ordered us to stop the bitchin': 'Enough of this,' he said. 'Is there nobody here who's got something good to say about Bobby Kennedy?' We said: 'Martin, that's what we're telling ya! There is no one. There is nothing good to say about him. The guy's an Irish Catholic conservative badass, he's bad news.' To which Martin replied: 'Well, then, let's call this meeting to a close. We will re-adjourn when somebody has found one thing redeeming to say about Bobby Kennedy, because that my friends is the door through which our movement will pass.' So he stopped the meeting and he made them all go home. He wouldn't hear any more negativity about Bobby Kennedy. He knew there must be something positive. And if it was there, somebody could find it. . . .

. . . that was a great lesson for me, because what Dr. King was saying was: Don't respond to caricature--the Left, the Right, the Progressives, the Reactionary. Don't take people on rumor. Find the light in them, because that will further your cause."

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