A book I discovered at the library a couple weeks ago got me thinking about who my heroes are- the people I look up to as "role models" and people who have influenced me- and the world. That last phrase takes me away from just talking about a few individuals who I have had the honor of knowing. People talk about a parent or professor. I'll do that in other times and places. This is about some of the world-changers who have most motivated, inspired, challenged, and ultimately changed me.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Pope John XXIII
Dan and Phil Berrigan
And the one who got me thinking of this list because of a biography I found recently:
Cesar Chavez: I had the good fortune of meeting him at a presentation in Allentown, PA, in the early 1970s and took these pictures.
I have to admit that I had difficulty boycotting non-union lettuce and grapes. My wife and I often struggled with that action. We did our best and did other things to support the cause.
It was probably Chavez's influence that has helped move me to being such a fan of things Hispanic and Latin American. His work and inspiration later opened me, I believe, to the possibilities of Liberation Theology and the witness of Archbishop Romero. Chavez, also, was an excellent example of the work of Dr. King and Gandhi brought to a different culture. That, too, was exciting.
The one thing I noted on my list was, to no surprise, the fact that most of them were men of faith. Deep faith. Even Elie Wiesel, who faced some of the worst that life can throw at anyone, remained faithful to the God of his ancestors. He may have had a big argument with adonai but he continued to engage God, asking for answers and a way to make sure that no one ever forgot.
Finally, one more thought- I also noticed that when I made this list of Ten Heroes, there was no woman among them. Probably not a surprise considering the era I grew up in- and that most heroes like these impact our personal growth and identity.
So what started as simply a vehicle to post some pictures of Cesar Chavez, may well turn into something more. I think I am going to attempt to do a series on my heroes, talking more about the ones on this page, and finding the women heroes of my life.