A heard a recent radio programme asking a British politician who been his inspiration,. It made me realise that very few public or national figures have inspired me. The exception to this being Martin Luther King,.
Co-incidentally it is the 50th anniversary of his “I have a dream” in speech at the Lincoln memorial in Washington this week.
What admire about Martin Luther King is, despite his repressed upbringing in a deeply apartheid system, he had self belief in his equality and the principle of non violent disobedience, as a way of protesting against the terrible racism, segregation and civil inequalities of the American south at the time. All this in the face of threats of violence and a campaign to undermine him and destroy his reputation by the FBI.
Of course, as his extramarital wanderings were exposed by the FBI, Martin Luther King,had feet of clay, which in some ways increases my admiration as underneath he was just an ordinary guy.
In his last speech he said
he was murdered for his beliefs the following day.
How many of us would continue with our struggle if we had a premonition of our death?.
None of us know how we will react, when our principles are challenged. None of us know if we would have watched our Jewish neighbours and children be taken off to the camp, or if we would have been brave enough to hide them in our attic, at a threat of our lives, like Miep Gies, the secretary of Anne Franks father. Who hid the Franks and their friends and even went to Gestapo headquarters to buy their freedom when they had been discovered…. Another woman I admire. “admire ” is a small word for the feeling I have about this woman.
I am a self-confessed wimp. I have been involved with the trade union movement for many years, there have been many times when I have spoken up against in justice, but there have also been times, to my shame, when I have been afraid to speak my mind because my own job would be in jeopardy.
One of the people who have been my inspiration is not a national figure but an ordinary modest man called Kevan Doherty who was Michael’s cousin.
After an unfortunate incident with a hallucinogenic drug when he was young, which made him believe he could fly, and jump out of a window….He seemed to have some sort of spiritual awakening and returned to the church of his childhood.
He left his blue-collar job in a factory and gained degrees at Oxford and Cardiff universities then spent the rest of his life as a social worker.
He never talked about his religion or used it as a justification for what he believed or did, but instead he visibly LIVED his principles. Living a simple, modest life, always being kind to people, never making judgements and doing good works without ever mentioning them.
He a;so had feet of clay, he was an ordinary bloke, liked a drink, maybe a bit too much and would make raucous jokes.
As I write this post, other people come to mind who have been an inspiration.
My ex-husband, who introduced me to the trades-union movement and reached the dizzy heights of the national executive of his own National union of Journalists. A very powerful position. He was very good at negotiation and passionate about his principles. But he suddenly gave it all up because the constant travelling to London was leaving him too little time with his wife and children.
I admired him for clarifying his priorities and having enough humility to realise that he was not the only person who could do the job.
The other person who comes to mind that inspires me is my neighbour Vera. This very ordinary, 60 something lady,
runs the local guide troop, helps out at a day nursery, visits the sick, shops for elderly relatives. House keeps for her husband….and is always available to help out a neighbour. All this with a cheery smile on her face and never a word of complaint.
And then there’s Lizzie, my friend, who every year has given up a month or six weeks pay to go and work voluntarily overseas. She says she gets a lot out of it, a different perspective on the world and doesn’t really see how altruistic ut is. She has her faults and drives me mad at times with her outspoken comments, . But she is the kindest person I know.
All these people have one thing in common they have self belief in doing the right thing, but are humbly unaware of the inspiration they give. They see themselves as ordinary people. They are not rich, beautiful or ambitious, but often brave and unselfish without really knowing it.
If I was the Queen (the mind boggles!) and gave out medals it would be these ordinary sort of people, not the retired civil servants, captains of industry, pop stars and sports people, who really are only doing their jobs.
I wish I could be more like them.
A year ago I was reflecting on my travel bug