Honoring our unsung community heroes


There are a lot of local heroes today. But we don't hear much about these heroes. They don't usually make the papers or headline news. 

We thought we would change that, for a brief moment, and recognize a few of the people who are doing great work in the community and deserve to be recognized.

They are the unsung heroes in our community. They are our neighbors, our friends, family, coworkers, business owners, teachers, coaches and community leaders. They are farmers, bus drivers, garbage collectors, mentors, barbers, mechanics, plumbers, electricians, steelworkers, cooks and gardeners. They are honest, hardworking people. 

Of course, they don't get ticker-tape parades or have highlight reels. They don't make millions of dollars or live in huge houses. They don't drive expensive cars or wear fancy clothes. They don't have millions of subscribers on YouTube or get millions of views on TikTok. They've probably never even been called an influencer once in their life.

But unsung heroes influence a lot of people. They make people happy and bring peace. On the surface, what they do might not seem all that extraordinary, but they are doing some wonderful things. 

Just showing up, day after day, to do the work, whatever that work is, is the true meaning of heroic. Just think what would happen if everyone in a community (or even half the people) took the day off tomorrow or any day of the week. A lot of things would stop working. 

Some things might never start.

Unsung heroes don't get big public displays of glory, but they are some glorious people. Still, watering the plants or keeping the trains moving on time is not how you stand out in the crowd these days. That's why it's good to appreciate the little things.

Now more than ever, it's important to appreciate what we have. The grind can make it easy to forget or compel us to idolize false heroes. Many of the things that are put in front of us are distractions or deceptions. We can sidestep these illusions and get at the heart of what matters by finding more unsung heroes and honoring them.

It's the Jimmy Breslin principle. When John F. Kennedy died, Breslin wrote about the man who dug Kennedy’s grave. Everyone else covered the funeral. 

When the boss of President Kennedy's gravedigger apologized for calling him to work on a Sunday, the gravedigger said, "It's an honor for me to be here."

We could use more salt of the earth people today. They tend to be genuine and kind. These are the kind of people that also tend to be unsung heroes.

Kindness is free, and research has found that performing random acts of kindness is good for you. It can boost your heart health and make you live longer

It's why the Grinch's heart grew three sizes after he returned the stolen Christmas gifts to Whoville in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." He had a change of heart after realizing stealing the presents did not destroy the Whos' community and joy.

The Grinch started as the anti-hero, the epitome of evil and unpleasantness, everything society shuns. He got that hardened shell because he was ridiculed early in life and never recovered from the negativity. The funny thing is, Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss and the creator of the Grinch, was the actual inspiration for the Grinch.

"I was brushing my teeth on the morning of the 26th of last December when I noticed a very Grinch-ish countenance in the mirror. It was Seuss! So, I wrote about my sour friend, the Grinch, to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that obviously I’d lost."

Even Dr. Seuss could have bad days. But he used those bad days to create something good.

We have a few Grinches in the world today. They are doing bad things. That doesn't mean they are bad people or irredeemable. Jimmy Breslin, the famous American columnist, taught us these deep truths about human nature because he stepped away from the crowd and looked at things other journalists didn't.

In the spirit of Breslin and Dr. Seuss, stepping away from the crowd could do us some good. We would gain some new perspective by unplugging and turning down the noise. We might be able to recalibrate our values. 

It is an honor to be here.

Sure, we have some problems. But nothing is perfect. Every community has issues, and every issue has a solution. Instead of harping on all the things that are wrong, how about we focus on what's right?

Then we can work on how to make things better.

Want to help build peace and economic opportunity this summer in Minneapolis? Be a part of Twin Cities Pop-Up Markets. Learn more at the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association.


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